We recognize that policyholders can be overwhelmed by an intense sense of frustration and stress when an insurance company stonewalls, denies, or underpays legitimate claims. As a Miami, Florida Insurance Claims Lawyer, my law firm frequently represents policyholders having difficulty with getting their insurer to fully pay their claim in a timely fashion. Because we recognize that insurance companies often exploit an insured’s lack of awareness regarding their rights and options, this two-part blog post provides answers to common questions about Florida insurance claims.
Are there time constraints that might limit my ability to pursue a lawsuit against my insurance company?
The statute of limitations is a deadline that establishes the time within which a lawsuit must be filed to commence a civil lawsuit. If a breach of contract or insurance bad faith lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitations “runs” (e.g., expires), an insured will typically forfeit his or her right to pursue a lawsuit. Generally, an insured in this situation will walk away empty handed because the insurer has no reason to pay the claim once a policyholder has relinquished his or her legal right to pursue litigation. The importance of complying with the statute of limitations cannot be overstated because the failure to meet this deadline almost always will be a permanent bar to recovery regardless of the merits of a policyholder’s claim.
Do specific carriers have an established pattern for improper handling of policyholder claims?
This type of generalization typically is not warranted because insurance carriers regularly change and evolve in terms of management and personnel. Because of these changes, a carrier’s claims handling practices might worsen or improve over time. Given such tendencies, a particular insurance company should not generally be labeled as especially notorious in terms of handling claim. While no specific insurer should be designated as a “bad faith prone carrier”, there are probably not any carriers that can be assumed to be completely free of bad faith conduct.
Can my insurer impose a penalty like canceling my coverage or increasing my premiums as retaliation for filing a claim?
Generally, insurance carriers cannot engage in this type of retribution merely because an insured asserts legitimate contractual rights. The primary function of insurance is to provide financial security against the risk of loss from covered perils. If policyholders faced the risk of having their coverage terminated or their premiums increased for pursuing a valid claim arising from factors outside an insured’s control, this would essentially nullify the value of insurance in the first place. There are a range of legal and practical reasons that insurers are prohibited from taking this approach to avoiding their responsibility to pay legitimate claims. For example, an insurer cannot cancel your individual coverage or increase your premiums under a group plan without carrying out such an action with regard to all members of the group. An insurer also might be required to obtain approval from the state department of insurance before increasing premium rates depending on the circumstances and state law.
Our Miami bad faith insurance law firm invites you to contact us if you are having difficulties with your insurance company. Miami lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles property damage claims against insurance companies in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.