Mansell, Engel & Cole

Oklahoma City Insurance Law Blog

How bad faith often arises in insurers’ claims handling

The very title of a recent media piece on insurance companies – Avoiding and Defending Against Bad Faith -- reveals that the industry has a material problem on its hands.

We suspect most of our readers readily understand what bad faith conduct is without the need for a clarifying explanation. They know intimately what it entails, either via stories related by third parties or through their own painful experiences.

Your insurance company is obligated to treat you fairly

Make no mistake, insurance companies are in the business of making money. If they can find a valid, legal reason for denying a claim or paying as little as possible for one, they will. Knowing that, they must follow certain laws when it comes to handling claims from those they insure.

Whether it's your homeowners' insurance, your renters' insurance or your auto insurance, the company you pay your premiums to and trust to be there when you need to file a claim is obligated to treat you fairly.

Just how much does your insurer know about you?

An accurate response to the above-posed headline in today’s blog post can be delivered in a single word: plenty.

You likely believe that the insurance company or multiple insurers that you contract with to safeguard against life’s material risks have personal data about you that is closely equivalent to what you provided them in application materials.

One moment she's a stated policyholder, but the next ...

Jodi Beucler calls it "unjust."

We suspect that many of our readers in Oklahoma and elsewhere would agree with that assessment, yet use other (read harsher) words to describe what one recent media report terms Beucler's "insurance denial nightmare."

House stinks: policyholder says insurer's claim denial does, too

The majority of seasoned insurance policyholders in Oklahoma and nationally are properly cynical when it comes to the companies they contract with to insure them against loss and damage in varying contexts.

Put another way: Although most of us harbor hope that our insurer will respond in good faith when we file a bona-fide claim, we're not exactly stunned by stories where such is not the case.

Bad faith case spotlights UIM insurance, adjuster’s conduct

Well, here’s a case that seems likely to boil the blood of many readers who zero on its details. It’s not hard to immediately empathize with the aggrieved policyholder in the below-related story or don a “that could have been me attitude” when weighing its merits.

A jury certainly didn’t have any problem siding with a denied claimant who steadfastly resisted an insurer’s low-ball offers to settle a case. It awarded the plaintiff punitive damages in his uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) action filed against Allstate. The policyholder has followed up that litigation with a bad-faith suit, which is ongoing.

Will genetics testing affect your insurance coverage?

If you are determined to live a long, healthy life, you probably take care of yourself. You quit smoking, eat your vegetables and try to stay active. You probably have your yearly screenings, especially if certain cancers or other conditions run in your family. One thing you do not want to do is to give the insurance companies a reason to deny you coverage for life insurance or long-term care.

However, if your family history includes debilitating or progressive diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, you may want to know your chances for developing these conditions. Watching your loved ones suffer from the degenerative effects of their illness is not something you look forward to, and you want to be able to plan accordingly, including securing the appropriate insurance for your care.

Tornado season spurs focus on Oklahoma insurance claims

An individual who has experienced a tornado at close range never forgets the encounter. Those virulent and unpredictable weather systems are among the most frightening and sometimes devastating of all natural events.

Many Oklahomans know that all too well. Along with a handful of other states, Oklahoma is virtually ground zero for tornado sightings and touch downs. Some years are not so bad. Others are problematic. The bottom line is that tornadoes are an annual phenomenon.

Indicators of possible insurance bad faith

In many situations, insurance is one of those things in the category of "I wouldn't have it if I didn't have to." It's illegal to drive a car without insurance. Thinking of buying a home? Most Oklahoma banks won't back your mortgage without a policy covering the asset.

This creates situations in which you, perhaps begrudgingly, pay your money. The expectation, of course, is that the insurer will make good on a legitimate claim when it is made. Too often, however, insurers take your money and then find contract loopholes to avoid or at least delay paying out on valid claims.

Jury doesn’t buy Geico’s story, awards huge recovery to claimant

The jurors begged to differ.

In fact, a Southern California jury recently delivered a verdict in a bad-faith insurance matter that flatly belies the assertion of national insurer Geico that it acted reasonably in its handling of a policyholder’s claim following a serious car accident.

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