Mansell, Engel & Cole

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.

The essential details of the tale can be quickly told. The policyholder’s truck was slammed into by a speeding motorcyclist who was uninsured. The biker died in the accident.

The claimant sought a policy-limit recovery from his Allstate UIM coverage. Notwithstanding a police report and Allstate confirmation that the motorcyclist was speeding and initiated the collision, the insurer maintained that the policyholder was largely at fault. It offered only a paltry amount of money to settle the claim.

The insured was having none of that, nor was the above-cited jury. Ultimately, the claimant was awarded about $109,000 in damages. His UIM coverage limit was $25,000.

Following that, the victim filed the aforementioned bad-faith claim against both the insurer and its adjuster, who had offered false evidence that was rejected in the jury trial. Although a trial court dismissed the complaint against the adjuster, an appellate court recently reversed that decision, finding that individual employees as well as insurance companies can be sued in in insurance matters.

The case has been remanded (sent back down for continuance) to the trial court.

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