Have you ever had your insurance company deny a claim you submitted, either in whole or in part?
Perhaps you were left wondering what went wrong and what can be done.
Sometimes a claim is denied for something you, as the insured, did: You let your insurance lapse or you bought the wrong coverage. Often times, though, insurance companies deny valid claims or refuse to pay claims despite the clear requirements of the policy. In these cases, you may very well have a bad faith insurance claim.
Bad faith first party insurance claims occur when an individual or corporation makes a valid direct claim to an insurance company and a settlement is refused, delayed or only partially paid.
Insurance companies owe a duty of good faith and fair dealing to those they insure, and part of that duty requires an insurance company to treat its policyholder’s interests just as their own.
Some signs that an insurer may be acting in bad faith are:
• Denial of payment without a communicated reasonable basis;
• Refusal to acknowledge or reply promptly upon notification of a covered claim;
• Failure to give a fair and reasonable evaluation or inspection of prospective damages;
• Making an unreasonable settlement offer.
The above list is clearly non-exhaustive and an insurance company can act in bad faith numerous other ways. The attorneys at THE GASPER LAW GROUP can determine whether your insurance company – who gladly took your premiums for months or years but has now turned against you – is acting in bad faith and whether you have a legitimate legal claim.
When we can establish that an insurance company has engaged in a bad faith practices, the insurance company is responsible for compensating the injured policyholder, paying the policy contract benefits and, in some cases, punitive damages that are intended to deter similar bad faith behavior in the future.
In certain circumstances, an insured or policy holder may even be entitled to emotional distress damages. For example, in Goodson v. American Standard Ins. Co. of Wisconsin, 89 P.3d 409 (Colo. 2004), the Colorado Supreme Court acknowledged that an insured purchases insurance to avoid suffering anxiety, fear, stress, and uncertainty with regard to a covered loss or accident. The Court explained:
The fact that an insurer finally pays in full does not erase the distress caused by the bad faith conduct. Damages for emotional distress the insured proves are therefore available in actions for bad faith breach of insurance contract upon the showing of the insurer’s liability.
If you purchase and maintain an insurance policy and suffer an unexpected loss, your reasonable expectation is that your insurer will honor its policy contract and compensate you for your loss. When an insurance company acts in bad faith, they are compounding the problems of an already difficult situation.
Don’t let an insurance company take advantage of you. If you file a valid claim and your insurance company refuses to pay it, let THE GASPER LAW GROUP help you get what you deserve.
* Matthew B. Drexler is a Partner practicing in the Civil Litigation Division at The Gasper Law Group, PLLC located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mr. Drexler can be reached at (719) 227-7779 for more information and to candidly discuss your case.