Miami and Florida Bad Faith Life Insurance Claims Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
When an individual purchases a life insurance policy, they pay premiums to the life insurance company with the understanding and expectation that the beneficiary will receive a monetary death benefit when the insured dies. In many cases a life insurance policy is purchased by the primary earner in the family so that if he or she dies unexpectedly, the surviving spouse and children will have funds to live on. Purchasing a life insurance policy is often a generous and loving gesture to assure a safety net for beneficiaries.
But what happens when the life insurance company refuses to pay the beneficiary after the death of the policyholder? Or when they engage in other unfair, deceptive and illegal practices? There is a term for this:
- Bad Faith Practices
Life Insurance Company Bad Faith Practices; Florida Statute 624.155
There are numerous Florida statutes pertaining to insurance matters. Of particular relevance, Florida Statute 624.155 provides a civil remedy for victims of insurance bad faith practices:*
624.155 Civil remedy.—
(1) Any person may bring a civil action against an insurer when such person is damaged:
1. Not attempting in good faith to settle claims when, under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so, had it acted fairly and honestly toward its insured and with due regard for her or his interests;
2. Making claims payments to insureds or beneficiaries not accompanied by a statement setting forth the coverage under which payments are being made; or
3. Except as to liability coverages, failing to promptly settle claims, when the obligation to settle a claim has become reasonably clear, under one portion of the insurance policy coverage in order to influence settlements under other portions of the insurance policy coverage….”
*portions of statute removed for brevity
Examples of Life Insurance Bad Faith Practices Include, but are not Limited to the Following:
- Refusing to settle
- Refusing to settle promptly
- Completely denying legitimate claims
- Refusing to investigate legitimate claims
- Refusing to investigate legitimate claims in a timely manner
- Cancelling valid policies by falsely asserting that premiums were not paid
- Delaying and stalling by utilizing various tactics – e.g., falsely asserting that documentation, proof of death, medical information or other information was not received
- False assertions that the deceased’s application contained one or more “material misrepresentations”
- Using the two year contestability period simply as a stalling tactic
- Lowballing – e.g., “accept this low offer or nothing at all”
- Acts of intimidation by the insurance company, including threats of nonpayment
Why do insurance companies often refuse to pay or delay even though they have a contractual and legal obligation to do so? Profit is the motive. By holding on to claimants’ money for days, weeks, months or years, they are able to invest massive amounts of money and earn greater returns.
Most people are surprised to learn that there are literally thousands of bad faith complaints every year in Florida alone. The CBS News Show 60 Minutes investigated bad faith practices and discovered that Florida’s life insurance companies did not even attempt to contact thousands of beneficiaries and give them the death benefit payments they were entitled to. It is inconceivable that these companies get away with bad faith practices, but in many cases they do.
Representing Victims of Life Insurance Bad Faith Conduct at The Law Offices of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.
One of the reasons that life insurance companies get away with bad faith practices is because beneficiaries are often unaware that help is available. Sadly, these beneficiaries are the true victims. The deceased policyholder certainly would want the beneficiary to receive the allotted death benefit funds. That was, after all, the insured’s intention when purchasing the policy.
If you are a victim of a life insurance company’s bad faith practices it is advisable to protect your legal rights and discuss your case with an experienced life insurance claims and bad faith practices attorney. Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo has represented thousands of clients in a wide variety of insurance matters since 1994, including life insurance claims. Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo resolves the great majority of insurance cases without going to trial.
Because bad faith life insurance cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, there are no legal fees unless Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo successfully resolves your case. If the insurance company’s bad faith actions were particularly egregious, punitive damages may be recoverable. A complimentary, no-obligation consultation is available to discuss your case. Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo represents clients in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and throughout Florida.
You can reach Miami Life Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0624/Sections/0624.155.html (Bad Faith Statute)