It can be hard to know when the insurance company is giving you the runaround and acting in bad faith. It may start out looking like simple incompetence—they take too long to respond to your queries, ask repetitive or pointless questions, or just ghost you. At some point, though, it becomes obvious that their actions are intentional. That’s when it’s important to get an attorney involved. There are numerous ways an insurance company can engage in bad faith—learn about what that looks like at each stage of your claim.
Ready to fight back against an unethical insurance company that’s mishandled your claim? Check out our local Orange County insurance bad faith attorneys.
Claims Administration – Your insurance company may engage in bad faith from the very beginning when they administer your claim. This is relatively common. Most insurance consumers don’t know their rights or the full terms and conditions of their policies, so when a claim is denied, they just shrug their shoulders and move on. When insurance companies deny a claim and their subscriber gives up, they essentially pad their bottom line without much extra work.
There are several ways insurance companies can engage in bad faith at this step. First, they can actively take steps to weaken or damage your claim—they might gather unnecessary documentation, force you to go through unnecessary steps, or pay out way less than would be reasonable. Second, they can simply fail to take action. This stalls your claim. Both are examples of bad faith.
After Denial of a Claim – Once the insurance company has already denied your claim, they may engage in bad faith practices. Their responsibility to you remains in place throughout the entire claims process, even after they have chosen to deny a claim.
If your claim has been denied, look at the documentation you were given. Does it give a clear explanation for their denial? If not, they may be engaging in bad faith practices. Insurers are supposed to be very transparent about their denials and provide information on why a claim was denied, what policy terms were used to make that decision, and provide further assistance if needed. If you receive a vaguely worded letter that doesn’t give you any way to research the denial or you don’t get a reason at all, the insurance company may very well be in the wrong.
During Litigation – An insurance company’s bad faith actions during litigation can be extremely financially damaging to a consumer, and yet these cases still crop up from time to time. Insurers may work in bad faith in multiple ways at this step of a claim:
Even during litigation, your insurance company has a legal obligation to you. Even consumers who know their rights often think that those duties go out the window once litigation has commenced. However, the relationship between you and your insurance company still requires them to handle your claims in an appropriate manner.
Perhaps one or more of the tactics listed above sound familiar to you, or maybe you have called your insurance company over and over trying to get information on a claim you filed. Perhaps you know that the reason for your claim denial doesn’t make sense, but you’re not sure how to appeal their decision or take your complaint further.
This is when it is crucial to hire a bad faith insurance attorney. Too often, insurance companies seem to run however they choose, simply because clients do not know or do not assert their rights. This isn’t their fault. Insurance is complex and confusing, and many consumers don’t even know where to start when it comes to understanding their policies and their rights. An attorney already knows your rights, how to enforce them, and what to do when the insurance company pushes back.
Ready to fight back against an unethical insurance company that’s mishandled your claim?
OrangeCountyLawyers.com is a highly localized attorney directory which includes comprehensive information about lawyers that we have verified are local to Orange County based on their profile with the California Bar.