Bad Faith Claim
Insurance companies are established to offer protection and financial security to their clients in times of crisis. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a car accident, or a health emergency, insurance can act as a valuable lifeline.
However, these companies are not always on your side, as their primary motive is to make money through collecting premiums, not by paying out claims. This financial incentive can, unfortunately, lead to bad faith claims, leaving policyholders in a precarious situation.
What Is a Bad Faith Claim?
A bad faith claim arises when an insurance company fails to act in the best interests of its policyholders by not fulfilling their obligations according to the insurance contract. This may include denying claims without a reasonable explanation, delaying or not giving fair compensation, or purposely making the claims process more difficult.
When claimants face such issues, they have the option to pursue a bad faith claim, which is a separate lawsuit from the original insurance claim. By winning a bad-faith claim, people can receive compensation not only for the damages and losses stemming from the original claim but also for the additional damages caused by the insurance company’s conduct.
Identifying Bad Faith Insurance Practices
To protect yourself from bad faith insurance practices, it’s essential to recognize the signs. Here are a few red flags that may indicate that an insurance company is acting in bad faith:
Unfair denial: If an insurance company denies your claim without providing a thorough explanation or any legal basis, this may be a sign of bad faith.
Excessive documentation requirements: Insurance companies may demand unreasonable amounts of information or documentation, effectively stalling the claims process and discouraging you from pursuing the claim.
Unreasonable delays: Deliberately delaying the investigation, acceptance, or denial of a claim without a legitimate reason as a way to make you miss the statute of limitations is another sign of bad faith.
Lowball settlement offers: Offering unreasonably low settlement amounts that do not reflect the actual value of your damages may also be a bad faith tactic.
Beware of the Trap of Not Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
When it comes to insurance claims, many companies will try to persuade claimants not to seek legal counsel. They may convince you that you’re better off negotiating with them directly, arguing that it will save you money and time. This is absolutely untrue.
By avoiding legal representation, insurance adjusters have the opportunity to take advantage of claimants and reach settlements that are significantly less than their entitled compensation. This undermines your rights and robs you of the financial assistance you need to recover and move forward.
Beware of Fishing Expeditions
Another tactic employed by insurance companies is asking claimants to sign permission for them to access all of their medical records during a “fishing expedition.” The goal is to identify any pre-accident injuries that may be related to the current symptoms.
If the insurance company uncovers an older injury with similar symptoms, they may argue that the injury existed prior to the accident, thus absolving themselves from covering the claim. To protect yourself from this tactic, involve a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can review and challenge the insurer’s interpretation of your medical records.
Insurance Adjusters Will Shift the Blame to You – Understanding Comparative Negligence in New York
New York operates under a pure comparative negligence system, meaning that responsibility for an accident can be shared between two or more parties. This principle affects how compensation is awarded. The more responsible a victim is found to be for an accident, the greater the reduction of their award.
An unscrupulous insurance company may attempt to unfairly shift blame onto the claimant or other parties involved in order to reduce their own liability. This can lead to unjust settlements for those involved.
How to Fight Bad Faith Insurance Practices in New York
Winning a bad-faith claim is challenging but not impossible.
Follow these steps if you find yourself facing bad-faith insurance practices:
- Document everything: Keep detailed records of all communications with the insurance company, including phone calls, emails, and written correspondence.
- Hire legal representation: Consult an experienced New York City personal injury attorney with a proven track record in handling bad-faith claims.
- Gather evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible to build a strong case, such as medical documents, repair estimates, and expert opinions.
- Be persistent: Remember that insurance companies may use delay tactics to try and wear you down. Keep following up and remain proactive in pursuing your claim.
Don’t fall victim to the tactics used by insurance companies that prioritize their profits over your well-being. Seek an experienced legal representative who will fight for your rights and help you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.