If you’ve been involved in an accident and presented a claim to insurance that was wrongfully denied, you may be able to file a bad faith claim against the insurance company. In the event of a bad faith claim, you can pursue damages above and beyond the limits stated in the insurance policy. Bad faith claims are complex, and it’s not an automatic bad faith claim if the carrier denies your claim. This is why it’s important to speak with a Florida bad faith insurance attorney who can advise you on how to resolve the dispute with your insurance company.
Types of Bad Faith Insurance Claims
There are two types of insurance bad faith claims — first-party and third-party. A first-party bad faith claim involves a dispute when your insurance company unreasonably refuses to investigate or refuses to pay a claim. This could be through your UM, or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. You purchased this coverage to protect you in the event you are injured in an accident and there is no other available insurance, or the policy limits have been exhausted. If your company delays for months and then finally rejects the claim, it is not good faith as defined in the policy.
A third-party bad faith claim is when your carrier doesn’t defend a valid claim or refuses to pay a valid claim brought against you by another injured party. Their failure to resolve the matter has left you exposed to a hefty personal judgment. In Florida, the injured third party has the right to bring the bad faith claim directly against your insurance company. He or she would be the recipient of any money awarded in a successful third-party bad faith claim.
Examples of Bad Faith
Each scenario is different, and the facts surrounding the individual claim will vary widely; however, there are some general business practices that can be deemed bad faith. Some of these include:
- Misrepresenting insurance policy provisions or material facts
- Failure to properly and timely investigate the claim
- Denial of a claim without adequate investigation
- Failure to communicate timely with policyholder
- No reasonable explanation in writing discussing the reason for denial or for a compromise settlement offer
- Failure to confirm or deny partial or full coverage of the claim after the insured makes a written request within 30 days after completion of proof-of-loss statements
- Failure to timely notify the insured the need for additional information to process the claim
How Much Time Allowed to Bring a Bad Faith Claim
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently clarified the statute of limitations on insurance bad faith claims in a case involving Geico Insurance. Claimants now have five years to bring a complaint against an insurer for acting in bad faith based on the fact this is a legal or equitable action on a contract.
Retaining a Florida Bad Faith Attorney
If you think you have a first-party or third-party bad faith claim, it’s important to speak with a Florida insurance coverage attorney as soon as possible. The skilled team at Pincus & Currier LLP has years of experience handling bad faith claims against insurers across the state. Call our office at 561-868-1340 to schedule a consultation.