If you are like most Americans, you’ve purchased insurance to protect your car, your home, or any other asset of significant value. While we expect our insurance policies to cover the cost of any misfortunes that occur due to no fault of our own, such as a severe storm causing damage to our homes, the unfortunate reality is that insurance companies do not always act in our best interests. While insurance companies are businesses and they do have the right to deny invalid claims, in many cases, they will wrongfully deny valid claims. If this has happened to you, then you may very well have the right to file what is known as a bad faith insurance claim. Bad faith on behalf of your insurance company is most commonly seen when your insurance company makes you a lowball offer to settle your claim, rather than paying the fair amount you are entitled to receive. Bad faith on the part of an insurance company is failing to settle a claim when, under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so, had it acted fairly and honestly toward its policyholder/its insured and with due regard for his/her/their interests. When you file a bad faith insurance claim, as long as you can prove that your insurance company was acting in bad faith, you may receive compensation that is even greater than the original face value of your insurance policy. If you have any additional questions, or you believe that you have a valid bad faith insurance claim, contact an experienced Panama City bad faith insurance lawyer at Manuel & Thompson today.
What Constitutes Bad Faith?
Simply put, to prove bad faith, you will have to demonstrate that your insurer denied your claim without a legitimate reason. Unfortunately, there are times when this can be difficult to discern, as insurance companies will frequently use vague, ambiguous language when denying your claim in an effort to confuse you and ultimately dissuade you from pursuing further action against them. This is why you must retain the services of a Panama City insurance claim lawyer who has extensive experience dealing with bad-faith insurers. Insurance companies may try a wide variety of deceitful tactics to deny you the coverage to which you are entitled, such as delaying your claim as long as they can, demanding an impractical and overwhelming amount of paperwork, or attempting to settle your claim for far less than you deserve.
The bottom line is that insurance companies are businesses, and in many instances, they care most about their bottom line. If you feel that your insurance company is purposefully attempting to deter you from receiving the compensation you deserve, you’re probably not wrong. You should also note that bad faith insurance claims can be filed for all types of insurance, including disability insurance, health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, property insurance, and more. We are here to help.
What Should I Do If My Insurance Company Wrongfully Denied My Claim?
If your insurance company has wrongfully denied your claim, you should take the following steps to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome:
- Document Your Case: Before taking any steps, ensure you have a complete record of all communication with the insurance company. This includes letters, emails, and phone call logs. This will be critical in supporting your claim.
- Read Into Your Policy: Carefully go through your insurance policy to understand its terms and conditions. Make sure you’re aware of all the coverage you’re entitled to, as well as any exclusions or conditions.
- Contact Your Insurance Agent: Before taking any legal action, reach out to your insurance agent or representative. They may be able to help you understand the reason for the denial and might rectify it if it was due to an oversight.
- Get a Written Explanation: If your insurance agent cannot provide clarity, request a written explanation from the insurance company regarding the denial of your claim. This is crucial evidence in case you decide to take legal action.
- Gather Additional Evidence: If your claim involves damages, get quotes from contractors, or have experts provide opinions. Their assessments can bolster your argument against the insurance company.
- Hire an Attorney: If your efforts are still met with resistance, it may be time to consult with a bad faith insurance lawyer. They can help guide you through the process and determine if legal action is a viable option.
- File a Complaint With the DIR: Report the incident to Florida’s Department of Insurance Regulation. They oversee insurance operations in the state and may take action if they find wrongdoing on the part of the insurer.
- Stay Patient but Persistent: Remember, insurance companies can sometimes delay processes hoping claimants will give up. Stay persistent in your pursuit, but also be prepared for a lengthy process.
What Compensation Can I Seek?
To start, a successful bad faith insurance claim should provide you with the full coverage to which you were initially entitled. For example, if your home was damaged in a storm, a successful bad faith insurance claim should cover the cost of the damages to your home. However, from here, you can seek additional compensation from the insurance company in a bad faith insurance claim, including statutory penalties, statutory interest, attorney fees, economic loss, emotional distress, liability for judgments in excess of policy limits, economic loss, and, for the most reprehensible bad faith insurers, punitive damages.
Contact a Florida Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer
If you believe that your insurance company failed to uphold its end of the bargain when you needed it most, there is a very good chance that you will have a valid bad faith insurance claim. Nobody should have to fight a powerful entity such as an insurance company on their own, which is why a Panama City bad faith insurance lawyer at Manuel & Thompson is here to help. Contact our firm today so we can assess your situation and determine the best possible strategy going forward.