How to Deal with Bad Faith Negotiating Practices

If you or a loved one sustained injury in any type of accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you’re looking to file an insurance claim, eventually, you will have to deal with an insurance claims adjuster. If you’ve never handled an insurance claim before, you may be wondering what a claims adjuster does. An insurance claims adjuster is hired by an insurance company to handle and process insurance claims. An insurance adjuster’s job consists of investigating any and all personal injury claims against their client, look for potential reasons to deny claims based on the policy language, figure out if their client’s actions actually caused the accident, and engage in settlement negotiations on behalf of their client. In the event that coverage is afforded for the claim, an adjuster must estimate how much the claim is potentially worth and make an offer to settle the claim to avoid any litigation.

What is Negotiating in Bad Faith?

It is important to keep in mind that an adjuster is always looking out for their client’s best interest and will usually try to minimize payment of claims and deny claims when applicable. Additionally, you should be aware that adjusters head into negotiating talks with a “reserve” amount in mind for how much the insurance company is willing to pay right off the bat for a claim. For this reason, settlement negotiations between adjusters and claimants can often get contentious. If you’re not prepared and knowledgeable about your rights under the law, an adjuster can take advantage of you. In order to prevent this, it is wise for you to understand when an adjuster is employing bad faith negotiating practices or tactics to undervalue or wrongfully deny your valid claim. To begin, an insurance company faced with a claim owes a duty to investigate the claim fully and fairly. It is commonly held that failure to do so constitutes tortious bad faith. As a technical matter, failure to investigate a claim is not a cause of action in itself. Rather, it is evidence of bad faith, which may entitle an insured to additional damages, beyond the recovery of the benefits due under the insurance policy, if the insurer denies the claim. That is, failure to investigate is evidence of an unreasonable denial of a claim. That is why it is essential that an insurance adjuster employed by the insurer fully inquire into possible bases that might support the insured’s claim and it cannot reasonably and in good faith deny payments to its insured without thoroughly investigating the foundation for its denial. These same principles apply to all types of insurance, in most, if not all, states. That is, all insurance is purchased to some extent to provide peace of mind to an insured or other beneficiary. A breach of the duty to investigate all bases— factual, contractual, or statutory—of coverage may constitute a breach of the insurer’s duty of good faith. The duty to investigate fairly is but one aspect of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

With that said, there is a big difference between an adjuster who negotiates in good faith and an adjuster who employs bad faith tactics in the negotiating process. Bad faith negotiating may occur when an adjuster denies your claim for no clear reason, refuses to answer your calls or emails or provide any type of status for your claim months after the claim was originally submitted or refuses to extend coverage for your claim when faced with evidence and legal authority to support your claim among other tactics. In Florida, there are laws in place to address this type of bad faith behavior in the context of insurance claims. You can find them in Florida’s insurance code online. There’s no checklist you can use to determine if your adjuster is acting in bad faith but reviewing some common bad faith tactics may help you understand what to look out for. On the other hand, an investigation conducted in good faith requires an honest attempt to discover the answers to questions that have been raised, in a timely manner. The insurer is required to investigate a claim objectively, not simply in order to prove that there is no coverage. Nor may an insurer jump to a conclusion on the basis of particular or certain evidence and then perform a perfunctory investigation. The duty to investigate asserted facts persists after the insurer has discovered facts that, in the insurer’s judgment, tend to disprove coverage. It seems that insurers in such cases are particularly prone to conclude that there is no coverage and to refuse to investigate further. In several cases involving that fact pattern, insureds have won very large awards of exemplary damages. An insurer must continue an investigation even in the fact of evidence that brings the insured’s veracity into doubt. However, the insurer is not required to investigate if a fair reading of the face of the claim shows that it is outside the bounds of coverage.

Hire an Attorney to Help with Your Personal Injury Claim

If you’ve been negotiating your own claim with an insurance company, and they continue to act in bad faith, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. If the insurance company’s adjuster is acting in bad faith, you have the right to file suit against the insurer. Bad faith lawsuits can be complex, and you shouldn’t try and pursue a case against an insurance company on your own. The car accident attorneys at Suarez and Montero would love to have an opportunity to explain the law in Florida to assist you in presenting a strong claim against the at fault party. Every firm is distinctive and auto accident victims have needs that are also distinct. needs are different. The Florida auto accident attorneys at Suarez & Montero encourage you to reach out so that we can explain more about the different ways that our law firm and attorneys can provide legal help and guidance after an auto accident. Make an appointment with us at one of our many locations. Remember, we work on a contingency basis so you will owe us nothing If we are unable to obtain successful results for your case. The attorneys at Suarez & Montero can meet with you to discuss further. always available to talk with you and answer your questions. Our skillful attorneys are genuinely committed to our clients. We will fight to make sure that you get the maximum amount of compensation owed to you. Let us help you get the medical care you need and fight to make sure you are compensated for your injuries! Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation in pursuing your claim and stand ready to protect your rights. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation.

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