What is the Insurance Company's Duty?
Our Insurance Attorneys in Houston Explain
An insurance company's duty varies from state to state, but as one might imagine, there are countless rules and regulations that require the insurance company to treat people and businesses they insure fairly.
Lawmakers in virtually every state have deemed it necessary to pass laws to make sure that insurance companies do not abuse, take advantage of, needlessly delay, or otherwise abuse their insureds. These rules and regulations are often grouped together in an area of the law known as "bad faith." And it's exactly what it sounds like. The area of law dealing with the bad behavior of insurance companies. Imagine: an entire body of law that now exists, and that has developed over the course of decades, because an entire industry routinely behaves badly.
As a result of this bad behavior, and on the heels of years of legislative action to curb it, states have enacted (and continue to enact) laws to penalize the insurance companies that engage in these practices. Nevertheless, and despite these rules and the sometimes harsh penalties that accompany them, insurance companies continue to take advantage of people and businesses.
Why? Because they can. They have the time, money, and resources to do it. Why don't more people fight back? Many worry that filing a claim will result in loss of coverage. Or that filing suit is expensive. Or that they simply should not deal with the headache of battling a large sophisticated insurance company. All of these assumptions are false.
You Can Fight Back
If you think you have been treated unfairly by an insurance company, you probably have. The average judge or juror is not much different than you are, and it's very common for people to become frustrated with the delay tactics and other games some insurance companies employ to minimize or eliminate their obligation to make good on viable claims. Don't sit and wonder if your insurance company has acted in bad faith, and violated its duties – find out.
What should you do? Level the playing field. Get expert advice – every single insurance company does, why shouldn't you? It costs you nothing. The lawyers at Daly & Black, P.C. will analyze your policy, the facts of your case, and determine whether you have a bad faith or other claim. If you're looking for a quick answer on this site, we cannot give it to you – because the law varies from state to state, and "bad faith" can turn on facts that require expert advice.
But here are some very general examples of the type of conduct that many states have deemed to be bad faith conduct:
- Unnecessarily delaying payment of claims;
- Blaming your loss on events other than the real cause;
- Wrongfully claiming your loss is not covered;
- Failing to perform an adequate investigation;
- Making up reasons for delaying or denying your claim;
- Dragging out the claims process without a good reason;
- Trying to settle with you for an amount the insurer knows is inadequate and less than what is fully covered;
- Failing to explain clearly why your claim was denied or underpaid;
- Intentionally misinterpreting the language in your policy;
- Telling you not to hire a lawyer;
- Performing a biased investigation of your claim; and
- Making wrongful threats to drop your coverage or deny your claim (essentially, bullying).
It should speak volumes to the average person that every state in the union has a specific body of law devoted to the bad practices of insurance companies. No other industry has so much law devoted to its years of misconduct. Good insurers look for, and find, ways to accept and promptly handle and pay claims. The rest of them look for ways to cheat. How? They put their bottom line (profits) ahead of your rights – which means delaying, denying, disapproving, or diminishing the value of your claim.
If you think your insurance company has behaved wrongly, call Daly & Black, P.C., the insurance litigation boutique devoted to making insurance companies do the right thing – every time.
Again, laws vary from state to state, but if you feel like your insurance company is giving you the run around, or not treating you fairly, we strongly suggest you consult (at no charge) one of the experts at Daly & Black, P.C. to see whether you have a valid claim. Often times, even the threat of litigation will cause misbehaving insurance companies to straighten up.