Georgia Bad Faith in Insurance Claims
Insurance isn’t always one of those things you can just opt to have; it’s often required. You are required by law to have auto insurance to drive your vehicle, and homeowner’s insurance to purchase a home; and under the Affordable Care Act, you must have health insurance or be penalized.
As a policyholder, you pay a premium in exchange for payment of certain losses. It’s a legally binding contract. Every insurance policy includes a covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Both parties to the contract must abide by the contract. Unfortunately, there are times when insurance carriers don’t act in “good faith.”
ACTING IN BAD FAITH AND BREACHING THE INSURANCE CONTRACT CAN OCCUR IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. FOR EXAMPLE:
- The policy may be unjustly cancelled
- A legitimate claim may be denied
- Pertinent language in the policy may be misrepresented
- The insurance company may fail to respond to a claim in a timely fashion
- They may fail to do a detailed investigation of the facts relevant to the claim
- The insurer may offer less than what is justifiably due under the policy
- Requiring unreasonable documentation from the claimant is evidence of bad faith
- Delaying payment or refusing payment without a clear explanation breaches the covenant of good faith and fair dealing
Insurance companies for third parties (that is, the negligent person or entity who caused your accident) also have a duty of good faith. This may occur if the company’s adjuster has engaged in outright fraud or interfered with your ability to pursue a legitimate claim. Examples include withholding evidence and tampering with a witness.
One common and frequent bad faith scenario occurs in cases where victims have been injured in a collision with an at-fault driver who has little or no insurance. Often, the only chance to obtain full compensation is through the victim’s own insurance carrier. Even if you’ve purchased uninsured or underinsured insurance and paid a premium for it, the insurer may not be so keen on paying. The insurance company may deny the claim, and without a straightforward reason. It’s unjust treatment and makes a difficult time even more difficult.
Under the law, policyholders are entitled to a fair and prompt claim investigation
This includes a timely acknowledgement via written notice of the claim, notification of its decision and an explanation of any delay. If you feel that your insurance company or a third-party carrier is violating its legal responsibilities, it’s time to seek advice from an experienced bad faith attorney. This legal professional will seek justice on your behalf. Besides having to pay the original claim, the insurance carrier may be liable for punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and court expenses.
However, keep in mind that an adjuster with an insurance company is not necessarily negotiating in bad faith just because there is a difference of opinion about how much an accident claim is worth, but bad faith can occur if the insurance adjuster will not give you the reasons for a very low settlement offer. Bad faith also can exist if the adjuster does or says something that is an improper settlement tactic. If you think the adjuster is acting in bad faith, you can mention it to the adjuster. If you do not get a good response, you can make the accusation in writing. A written accusation is more serious and usually will get rapid attention.
Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friends
While you may think your insurance company is on your side, their goals are different from yours. Their objective is to protect their bottom line, not your financial security. Let an experienced bad faith insurance attorney set them straight. Attorneys with many years of experience in settling bad faith insurance claims can negotiate effectively on your behalf. Your attorney will be familiar with all the tricks and techniques that insurance companies may use to minimize your settlement. Attempting to negotiate with an insurance company on your own will usually result in a poor financial result.
Contact A Georgia Bad Faith Insurance Claim Attorney Today
If you feel that your insurance claim was unjustly denied or that the insurer was not dealing with you in good faith, the personal injury attorneys at the Mann Law Firm can help by reviewing your circumstances and discussing all available legal options. In addition to handling cases in Macon, we are prepared to represent clients in Dublin, Warner Robins, Milledgeville and other Georgia communities. We would like to meet with you to discuss your case, and we are proud to offer free initial consultations.