Mansell, Engel & Cole

Your insurance company won't pay. Now what?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the number one complaint that consumers have about their insurance coverage is delay in handling claims. This concern accounts for over 17 percent of all policyholder complaints. Under Oklahoma state law, insurance companies must either pay or deny your claim within 45 calendar days. But what should you do if 45 days have passed and you have not received payment or have received only a partial amount?

Though insurance companies are meant to protect your interests, if there is ambiguity surrounding your claim, they may refuse to pay or refuse to pay the full amount. Sometimes this happens because your case is complicated. However, if your insurance company knows that they should pay and still do not, they are considered to be "acting in bad faith," and there are steps to take to ensure that you're compensated correctly.

Depending on your specific situation, if an insurance company has acted in bad faith toward you, you may have grounds to file a claim and seek compensation even beyond the original payment amount. For instance, in Oklahoma, an overdue payment by your insurance company may be subject to interest at the rate of 10 percent per year. You may also be able to recover any attorney's or court fees, in addition to what are called "punitive damages" or "exemplary damages" - so called because they are meant to set an example to others who may commit the same damaging behavior.

Insurance disputes are among the most stressful you might face - first, you have been injured in some way, and then your insurance won't cover it. This may lead to financial hardship or other stressors.

If you are experiencing a situation where your insurance company is not handling your claim correctly, an experienced attorney may be able to help you understand your rights in your particular situation and predict whether you may have a claim for damages.

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