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Litigating Bad Faith Claims in Florida

When Your Insurance Company Fails to Adequately Evaluate Your Claim and Represent Your Interests

I am often asked by clients “what exactly is a ‘bad faith’ claim in Florida?” A first party bad faith action arises as the result of an insurer’s wrongful refusal to settle a claim that accrues directly to its own insured. Examples of when a first party bad faith claim may occur include claims resulting from an unreasonable denial of one’s uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage, homeowner’s insurance, or social security disability benefits. Because an action for an insurer’s bad faith failure to properly settle claims arises out of an insurance contract, the cause of action is analyzed under the law of contracts.

Insurance Companies should do the Right Thing

The concept behind a right under Florida law to bring a claim for bad faith is the underlying notion that insurance companies have an obligation of good faith and fair dealing when they are investigating and considering claims. Bad faith claims are critical for providing recourse to those who might be exposed to personal liability because their insurance company failed to properly investigate and evaluate a claim submitted by a third party against the insured. If an insurance company rejects a claim against its insured by a third party without conducting a sufficient investigation, it could expose the insured individual—who puts their trust and confidence into their insurance company—to judgments that exceed the coverage policy limits. In essence, insurance companies have the power and authority to litigate or settle a claim and because of that power and authority, they owe their insured a duty to not only act in their own interests but to act in the best interest of their insured.

Insurance Company Claims Processing

When you pay your insurance premiums, you are depending on your insurance company and putting faith in them to act in your best interest if a claim is ever brought against you. This means that you want your insurance company to fully investigate a claim, make a reasoned evaluation and resolve the claim in your best interest. The ability to bring a bad faith claim is also imperative in seeking justice after an insurance company fails to fairly evaluate a claim submitted by its own insured.

If a claim is brought against you, your insurance company is required to keep you informed of the actions it is taking and advise you of all opportunities for settlement. They must also advise you of the probable outcome of litigation. If you file a claim with your insurance company, you expect them to be fair in evaluating your claim. After all, you have paid for your insurance policy. Cookie-cutter computerized systems of adjusting claims that insurance companies use simply do not take into account that each claim is unique with its own set of facts.

Should I hire an Attorney?

Instances where you may need an attorney that handles insurance carrier bad faith claims includes times when an insurance company unreasonably denies the claim or there is an unreasonable delay in payment or dilatory tactics are employed to stall payments in accordance with the policy. When you file a claim with your insurance company under your policy, it is not suppose to be an adversarial process between you and the claims adjuster. Rather, the insurance company has a fiduciary duty to you, as the insured, to act in your best interest when evaluating your claim—not its own. However, there are times when insurance companies fail to do so and the result can be a drastic delay in recovering the benefits you are entitled to or exposing you to financial liability in excess of your policy if you are being sued by a third party. When this happens, it is imperative that you speak with attorneys who are well versed in handling bad faith claims and understand the nuances and intricacies in litigating these claims. Please contact the attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, 727-451-6900, for further information.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/insurance-bad-faith/