Attorney Rob M. Baskerville is an auto accident lawyer in Albuquerque who understands the obligations of insurance companies. Today, we bring you valuable information about “bad faith” insurance.
When you submit an insurance claim to an insurance company, that company has an obligation to act in good faith. Now, this obligation goes further than a company’s own values… it’s the law.
Yes, that’s right – insurance companies are required by law to act in good faith.
If an insurance company’s claim adjuster were to violate his or her duty to act in good faith, it would constitute bad faith.
Hold on… Who is the insurance “claims adjuster”?
A claims adjuster is an individual who is employed by an insurance company to process the insurance claims that are filed with the company.
The job of the claims adjuster entails investigating submitted claims against their insured (i.e., their policy-holder).
When investigating the claim, the adjuster systematically specifies any reasonable reason to deny the claim. He/she determines if their policy-holder caused the accident leading to the claim. If the adjuster finds that their insured did cause the accident, then they are responsible for determining the amount that the insurance company will pay out to settle the claim.
In most cases, this amount is the lowest amount that can be justified by the claims adjuster.
Remember: Insurance claims adjusters are trained professionals who receive specialized training in the evaluation of claims. Unfortunately, some adjusters will find just about any way to minimize payment as much as possible or to deny the claim altogether.
(You might also want to read our post on how insurance claims were converted to a money-making process.)
OK, let’s get back to “bad faith.”
Again, if an insurance claims adjuster violates his/her duty to act in good faith, it would constitute bad faith.
So, what exactly does that mean?
Well, “bad faith” is a legal term that describes when an insurance company denies an insurance claim without a reasonable basis for doing so.
Unfortunately, there have been cases where insurance companies have failed to settle claims properly after a car accident.
Here’s the bottom line:
Insurance policies are contracts. Policy holders (you and I) pay premiums for insurance policies. These premiums are the policy holder’s part of the agreement in order to be “covered” by their insurance company in the event of a car accident.
The definition of “coverage” to be provided by your insurance policy is within the policy language. You’ll find your policy limits (the amounts up to which your insurance company will provide coverage) stated there, too.
Here’s the problem:
Claimants (the individuals who file insurance claims) often believe that:
(a) the insurance company has interpreted the agreed upon “coverage” too narrowly and/or
(b) has interpreted the required terms and conditions too broadly
…in order to limit the amounts paid to claimants involved in an auto accident.
So, how do I know if the insurance company is acting in bad faith?
The line between good and bad faith is a fine one. Unfortunately, there’s no quick checklist you can review to identify whether or not your assigned claims adjuster is acting in bad faith. However, here are some examples that may demonstrate bad faith tactics.
In New Mexico, if an insurance claims adjuster makes an unreasonably low offer as a result of unfairly evaluating a claim, then he/she may be acting in “bad faith.”
The same is true if the insurance company denies a claim without a reasonable reason to do so. This includes automatically denying coverage without investigating your claim first.
Refusal to investigate your insurance claim or failure to present a written explanation which clearly states the reasonable reasons for denial of the claim may also suggest bad faith.
Other examples of bad faith tactics include purposely delaying your claim by reassigning adjusters, intentionally withholding information relevant to your claim, and/or improperly citing the law in order to lessen or deny your claim.
Insurance Bad Faith Claims
When an insurance company does not uphold their duty to act in good faith and fair dealing to their insured, a claim can be brought against the insurance company for its bad acts. When faced with this situation, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.
Baskerville Law: Auto Accident Lawyer in Albuquerque
Baskerville Law LLC is experienced in providing advice and consultation regarding coverage issues with insurance companies. We understand the obligations of insurance companies and what stands in court as “unreasonable” actions.
If your insurance company is denying, delaying, or disregarding your claims, we want to hear your story and help.
Call Rob M. Baskerville, auto accident lawyer in Albuquerque, at (505) 247-2774 for your free consultation.
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