Getting denied by your insurance company can be extremely frustrating. You pay insurance so that when you need medical treatment, you can get reimbursed!
If your insurer is refusing to reimburse you for something you believe they should be responsible for, don’t just sit and stew over it. Insurers who refuse to pay out for medical expenses covered under the policy may be acting an unlawful manner and subject to a “bad faith” lawsuit.
What Is a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?
When an insurance company is negligent or performs unlawfully during your settlement, it is typically referred to as a case of “bad faith.” Insurance companies have a duty to negotiate in good faith with their clients. Failing to do so requires legal action and consequences.
But claims of bad faith don’t just arise from individuals who do not get the settlement they want. There are a few different reasons an insurance company may be sued for bad faith, including:
- The claim is not thoroughly investigated
- The claim is denied without a proper investigation
- The claim is not paid within a reasonable time frame
- The settlement is not negotiated or communicated within a reasonable time frame
- The claim is denied without a reasonable explanation
- There are no negotiations to settle the claim
- The policy limits are not disclosed to the client
If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith, take the following steps:
Document the Claim. Before you take any action, collect and request all documentation concerning the claim’s denial. Who did you talk to? When did they deny your claim? What was their reasoning? Have they missed any calls or ignored any of your attempts to communicate? Include as many details of your correspondence as you can. This information will be important throughout the entire process of negotiating this claim.
Speak to a Supervisor. Up until this point, you have probably only been speaking with the adjuster who is handling your claim. The next time that you speak to your adjuster, ask to talk to their supervisor or someone in a higher position at the insurance company. Alert the supervisor of the situation and ask what can be done to receive a reasonable settlement for your claim.
At this point in the process, you should mention that you plan on filing a claim of bad faith. Often, notifying an insurer about a claim of bad faith is enough to get the company to negotiate with you and find a reasonable settlement.
Put It in Writing. If mentioning a bad faith claim over the phone does not prompt any swift action, be sure to put your intentions in writing. These letters are typically taken more seriously than a spoken intention. In this letter, you should express your concerns, detail the settlement that was offered, discuss the proper settlement you are asking for, and include any other reasons why you suspect the company is acting in bad faith. Let the insurance company know where you are in the process of filing a lawsuit, or the date you plan to take legal action if a settlement is not negotiated.
File a Lawsuit. Because the mere mention of a bad faith claim can quickly drive a successful negotiation, these cases rarely make it to the courtroom. If they do get to court, however, they’re not easy to win.
Be prepared with proper documentation, and any information on Florida law that supports your suspicions that the company is acting in bad faith. If it is found that the company is indeed acting in bad faith, the judge may require the insurance company to pay damages and court costs on top of the original compensation that you had asked for.
If you feel that it is necessary, you may still file a lawsuit after your settlement has been negotiated. In this lawsuit, you can ask for the damages that were acquired while your insurance company was acting in bad faith and not providing a proper settlement.
Contact Your Lawyer. This is not the final step – throughout the entire process of negotiating a bad faith claim, you should be in contact with a personal injury lawyer who has experience working with bad faith claims. Your lawyer will help you move through Florida’s insurance laws to negotiate your claim and obtain a reasonable settlement from your insurance company.
If you believe your insurance company has been acting in bad faith and would like to take action, reach out to us immediately for a free case review.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.