Insurance is supposed to be there to make us whole when an unforeseen event damages our home or business. Because more than 50 tornadoes per year strike Oklahoma, people in the area pay the highest homeowners premiums in the nation.
While your insurance company is more than a happy to cash your payment checks, when it comes time to pay a claim, it may deny it for no apparent reason. When an insurer denies a valid claim, it may be operating in bad faith.
What is bad faith?
Insurance companies may use illegal or wrongful tactics to deny your claim or to pressure you into a settlement for less than you deserve. These may include:
- Refusing to defend you against an injury claim
- Unreasonably delaying the investigation of a claim
- Withholding or stalling payment
- Canceling a policy
- Not offering full compensation for a loss
- Misleading you about filing deadlines and required information
- Misleading you about what is covered
- Denying a claim that is covered under the policy
It's unfortunate, but some insurance companies have earned a reputation for going to great lengths to deny or reduce rightful compensation to keep their profit margins high.
Pushing back against insurance companies
The reprehensible business practices of these corporations are not a recent phenomenon. As far back as 1935, the Oklahoma Supreme Court put insurance companies on notice that they are accountable for intentional bad faith business dealings.
If you believe your claim is unreasonably denied or delayed, your attorney can help you prove that your carrier acted in bad faith. If your claim is successful, the insurance company may have to pay for the full amount of your claim and face additional penalties that include compensating you for:
- Financial loss: This may include all property damages, fees, loss of business operation and expenses associated with resolving the claim.
- Emotional distress: Having your home in shambles after a catastrophe puts a tremendous toll on your emotional health and wellbeing. Juries, in particular, may empathize with the hardships you've endured.
- Damage to reputation: Placing you in a difficult financial situation while waiting to resolve a rightful claim may affect your personal or business reputation.
Making your case
You and your attorney will need to persuade a judge or jury that you have been treated unfairly. Therefore, it is important to document your position by doing the following:
- Photograph all damages
- Write down dates, times and people you speak with regarding your situation
- Get multiple estimates
- Ask for explanations in writing
Oklahomans pay extraordinarily high insurance premiums. Therefore, it's only right that you are promptly and fairly compensated when you suffer a loss. If your insurance company isn't doing right by you or is dealing in bad faith, contact an experienced insurance attorney from the law offices of Mansell, Engel & Cole.