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.
Your insurance company's responsibilities to you
Your insurance company must abide by the terms of your policy. That may seem like your claim will go through without incident, but there is more to your policy than just the declarations page. Insurance agents scour their policies looking for loopholes that allow them to legally deny your claim. Even if you receive an initial settlement offer, it may be for far less than you need and your policy would allow.
Your insurance policy isn't the only thing that governs your relationship with your insurer. The company must also adhere to certain federal and Oklahoma laws. In general, your insurance company owes you the following:
- No discrimination -- Restricting benefits or canceling a policy due to race, gender, marital status or religion, among other things, violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
- No dishonesty -- The insurance company may not use deceptive or unfair practices in order to gain clients. Companies must avoid bidding wars, false statements and intentional misrepresentations.
- Explanation of denials -- The insurance company must provide you with a reason for denying your claim. If you question the denial, the company must provide you with an answer.
- No threats -- The insurance company may not threaten to cancel your policy if you decide that accepting a settlement offer would not serve your best interests.
- No intimidation or harassment -- The insurance company must not harass or intimidate you in any way during the claims process. This includes asking you to make false statements regarding your claim.
- Pay in accordance with the policy -- You have the right to payment of a claim under the policy for which you pay premiums.
In addition, if you overpay your premiums, the company must issue you a refund.
If your insurance company fails you
Most insurance companies make sure that they treat those they insure fairly. However, there are times when companies stray over the line. If your insurance company failed to live up to its responsibilities to you, it may help to know your rights and legal options.