More Information on Bad Faith:
Virtually any type of insurance coverage can potentially result in a claim of insurance bad faith. There are, however, certain types of claims that are more likely to result in bad faith than others, including the following:
Uninsured/Underinsured Vehicle Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured vehicle coverage is designed to protect us in the event that we are harmed by another’s negligence, and the at-fault party is not able to pay the full amount of our damages. Often, the at-fault driver is not able to pay the full amount of damages because he or she is uninsured or underinsured, and because he or she does not otherwise have the financial capacity to pay the excess damages.
Uninsured/underinsured coverage can provide additional coverage beyond the policy limits of the at-fault driver. Without this coverage, you may be unable to recover full compensation for your losses.
If you have uninsured/underinsured coverage, your insurance company has a duty to compensate you for damages not covered by the at-fault party. In these cases, an insurance carrier will have a strong financial incentive to minimize the amounts that they are required to pay and this can result in your own insurance company defending the at-fault driver against you. This creates a conflict where bad faith can occur.
Disability insurance is intended to replace lost earnings in the event that the insured becomes disabled, either permanently or for some extended period of time (usually following a “waiting period,” which is usually at least 30 days). In the event of a disability, particularly if the payout is expected to be significant and the disability is not clear-cut, insurance companies may fail to properly investigate and give due consideration to whether the insured is disabled and entitled to the benefits under the terms of the disability policy.
As with other claims, insurance companies have a duty to conduct a fair investigation as to the merits of a disability claim. They cannot put their financial interest above making a fair determination. In some instances, an insurance company will take the position that a person is not disabled and is able to fulfill certain employment opportunities without bothering to seek medical advice to determine whether this truly is the case. Insurance companies may additionally be reluctant to pay out on claims of debilitating mental illness.
When a fire or other significant event occurs and a person’s home is destroyed, insurance companies often choose to downplay the true cost of rebuilding a home. Instead, the insurance company may seek to prolong making payments, claim that a much lower payment is required than is actually the case, or claim that no payment is required based upon a variety of reasons. In some instances, insurance companies may even “blame the insured” for contributing to a loss, which is not a defense unless the insured intentionally caused such destruction (such as in the case of arson).
When Insurance Companies Engage in Wrongful Conduct, We Seek to Recover For Insurance Bad Faith
While insurance companies want your premiums, they do not really care about being your friend. In most cases, their actions are guided solely on what they can do to make the most money possible. If they can get away with paying less than they legitimately owe or acting outrageously for the sole purpose of putting financial pressure on their clients to accept unreasonably low settlements, the only way that they will change their course of conduct is if they ultimately must pay for these actions. Holding them accountable is the role that we play as Washington insurance bad faith lawyers.
Please call us to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we represent clients in insurance bad faith matters.
Once we learn about the facts and circumstances of your case, we can provide you with a range of the options that are available to seek recovery against your insurance company. This consultation is free, and we usually accept insurance bad faith cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there are no fees that will be owed to us unless and until we recover for you.