Is your insurance refusing to cover you despite what it says in your policy? You may have grounds to file a bad faith claim.
Most people would agree that insurance adjusters aren’t necessarily your favorite person to talk to on the phone, which is surprising given that their stated purpose is to help individual policyholders pay for medical expenses, property damages and damages after an accident.
However, as we all know, insurance companies don’t always hold up their end of the bargain.
When it comes to insurers, “good faith” is the understanding that they will treat policyholders and non-policyholders with good intentions, open honesty and fair treatment. For instance, if you are in a car wreck and file a claim with your own insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance, that company has a duty to respond within a timely and cordial manner.
“Bad faith,” on the other hand, means the insurance company or claimant has less than ethical intentions, no matter if the individual making the claim is a policyholder or not. Claims for insurance bad faith aren’t limited to car accidents, though these are the most common cases.
Each state has its own variation of the laws put into place to protect consumers against insurance bad faith. Sadly, that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.
Examples of Florida insurance bad faith cases
One of the most well-known examples of bad faith in Florida is the case of Harvey v. GEICO General Insurance Co.. The estate of John Potts, who died from injuries sustained in a fatal car accident in August 2006, claimed that GEICO wasn’t holding up their end of the policy. The company wouldn’t cover certain expenses they believed were in John’s contract.
The case dragged on for 12 years and was finally settled in September 2018 (in favor of Potts) with a multi-million dollar settlement.
Reasons for filing a bad faith claim
Some of the most common tactics insurance companies try that may constitute a bad faith claim include:
- Failure to respond to a payment demand within the specified time limit.
- Failure to convey important information to the person making the claim.
- Denying or paying a claim outside a reasonable period of time.
- Failure to settle the claim when it’s clear who is liable for the claim.
- Refusal to pay without fully investigating the claim.
How to file a bad faith claim
Filing a bad faith claim will be separate from your original claim. For example, if you’ve been in a wreck and filed a claim, you’ll have to file a second one for bad faith.
Chapter 624 of Florida’s Title XXXVII states:
“As a condition precedent to bringing an action under this section, the department and the authorized insurer must have been given [a proper] 60 days’ written notice of the violation.”
The Florida Department of Financial Services will issue the proper forms to you in order to make your claim. The department then has 20 days to accept or return the paperwork for correction, and the 60-day window that the insurance company has to respond will remain open until the corrections are received.
The insurer must then report to the Florida Department of Financial Services within a reasonable time to correct their error, settle the claim or make a counter-argument.
According to Florida law:
“Any person who pursues a claim under this subsection shall post in advance the costs of discovery. Such costs shall be awarded to the authorized insurer if no punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff.”
In a nutshell, if you’ve made a valid bad faith claim in Florida and the court rules in your favor, you’re entitled to compensation for your damages, including court fees and hiring an attorney (with the exception of punitive damages.)
Talk to a Tampa insurance bad faith lawyer
Insurance bad faith claims are one of the instances where having an attorney’s expertise is particularly important. Insurance companies are going to act in their best interests, and they won’t be afraid to “pull out the big guns.”
Our team of experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers at Lorenzo & Lorenzo is committed to ensuring you get the best outcome possible and are fairly represented. If you feel you have grounds for a bad faith claim, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.