Mansell, Engel & Cole

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.

The rationale is clear. Insurers are in business to make money. However, as an industry that has been around for eons, insurance money-making is now a science-backed art. Sometimes companies skirt the law. Sometimes they break it outright. And so there are laws to protect your rights.

Bad faith tactics by insurers can take many forms.

Unreasonable delays

The law in most states sets deadlines for when an insurance company must decide to either accept or deny a claim. It usually ranges from 15 to 60 days. If an insurer takes more than the allotted time, it might be stalling in hopes the claimant will just go away.

Incomplete investigations

An implied duty of fair dealing exists in every insurance policy. That is supposed to translate into a prompt and thorough investigation of the claim. If you find your claim denied before a adjuster ever appears, that could be an indicator of bad faith.

Deceptive practices

Just because you have insurance doesn't mean you know every jot and tittle of what's covered. Your insurer does, though. And if, after a claim, the company fails to let you know of an opportunity to recover or doesn't supply the necessary forms to make a claim on time, it could be suspicious.

Offering less than the claim is worth

Immediately after an accident, an insurance company may make an offer to settle. It might sound satisfactory, but it often comes before all the damages are estimated or even in evidence.

These are only a few methods insurers are known to use to avoid paying a claim. You deserve solid legal advocacy. To get it, consult an experienced attorney.

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