Most people buy insurance to protect themselves against economic losses associated with personal injuries or property damages, or even the possibility of a lawsuit that will result in losses. In exchange for paying premiums, a policyholder is owed a wide range of duties by the insurance company, such as provide coverage and uphold the terms of the policy.
However, there are many cases in which an insurer fails to uphold its expressed or implied duties to the policyholder. You must always remember that insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. In order to protect their profits, they sometimes commit deceptive practices, known as insurance “bad faith.”
Bad faith is broadly defined as dishonest or unfair practices. Insurance companies are obligated to thoroughly investigate, negotiate, and settle claims in good faith. When that doesn’t happen, they can be held liable.
The following are the most common bad faith tactics:
- Failing to conduct a full investigation – If an insurer does not investigate the claim completely, then it is acting in bad faith. A complete investigation ensures that an individual’s claim is given the proper attention it deserves and that the insurer is taking the facts of the case into account when determining a claim.
- Unreasonable delays – If the insurer makes constant demands for more information or more paperwork, they are trying to drag the investigation on for as long as possible to delay deciding upon the claim.
- Deceptive practices – You may be unaware of certain facets of your coverage. Although the insurer has a comprehensive understanding of your policy, they may choose to alert you or notify you of important deadlines to complete your claim on time.
- Lowballing the offer – Offering less money than a claim is actually worth is an example of bad faith.
- Cancelling your policy – An insurer may attempt to cancel your insurance policy after you have made a claim. They will typically rely on misrepresentation of the fine print of the policy to justify their decision.
- Threats – Some insurers threaten harsh legal action against a potential claimant, or imply it.
An insurer that is found to have acted in bad faith can be held accountable for damages in excess of the policy limits. If you have been a victim of bad-faith insurance practices in Missouri, proving so is not always easy.
At Kempton & Russell, we are committed to protecting your rights and best interests when dealing with an insurance company after any kind of accident. If you are injured, do not sign anything and don’t agree to anything when dealing with insurance companies. If you suspect your insurer is acting in bad faith, we can investigate your case, examine how the insurance company dealt with your claim, and build a strong case to obtain the outcome you desire.