Insurance Bad Faith
Insurance companies try to do the right thing, but they often fail. When they breach a contract obligation to you, it is called bad faith. Where the denial of coverage is malicious, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
Insurance companies are very smart about their contracts. They hire excellent lawyers who pore over every exception. Every denial of coverage seems reasonable at first, yet law books are full of cases where consumers have sued insurance companies and won because they were treated unlawfully. You will need a lawyer in almost every case to understand whether the denial of coverage entitles you to bring a lawsuit.
Insurance bad faith claims arise under liability policies and property policies. I have extraordinary experience in both types of bad faith cases because of my prior role as coordinating counsel for the largest personal lines insurance company in California. I have also represented policyholders against insurance companies for all kinds of cases.
What Are Your Policy Rights?
If you are insured under a liability policy and have a claim made against you, you are entitled to be defended at the insurance company’s expense whenever there is potential for coverage. You are also entitled to have the insurance company indemnify you whenever liability is reasonably clear. If you are sued and your insurance company refuses to defend you, it is imperative that you have the situation reviewed by an insurance bad faith lawyer immediately. If you have a judgment entered against you and the insurance company refuses to pay, you should have the situation reviewed by a lawyer. If you are sued for an amount in excess of your policy limits and the insurance company has an opportunity to settle the case within the limits and refuses, you should see a lawyer.
Under a property policy, an insurance company agrees to pay for the value of your property if it is damaged or destroyed as a result of a covered risk of loss. Disagreements arise under these policies whenever there are many causes of loss, one of which may be covered but others may not; over value of the loss; or specific limitations such as code upgrades, to name a few. Should you have a major property loss, it makes sense to speak to a lawyer before settling the claim. If you have a loss and the insurance company denies the claim, you should always seek advice from an attorney to make sure the insurance company is correct. The law of insurance is a part of the insurance policy. Even if the policy appears clear to you, there may be nuances only a lawyer can fully understand.
I have represented consumers against insurance companies in all manner of disputes. For example, I represented the owners of a 1200 ton tuna vessel lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean due to a sinking in which I sued all of the insurers who denied the claim and won.
There is no subject matter I am more experienced with than insurance bad faith, and I would encourage you to contact me if you have the unfortunate experience of a dispute with your insurance company.