Bad Faith – Insurance Adjusters: Suing Your Insurance Company For Failing to Pay Your Insurance Claim (or Not Paying Enough)

Posted By on July 23, 2013

Last Update: 02/01/16

FEMA Hurricane Ivan damage Florida 2004

FEMA image of 2004 Hurricane Ivan damage

 

Insurance adjusters are professionals trained to finalize insurance claims for the least amount possible. When they go over the legal limits in their zeal to make their bosses happy by keeping the insurance company’s money in its own pockets, then Florida law provides a remedy to the claimant who was wronged.

Why? Insurance companies pay based upon a contract. Under Florida contract law, insurance company’s are duty-bound to do the right thing under that contract if a claim is made. For some carriers, this proves to be too much to ask, particularly during times where lots of claims are being filed with them (e.g., hurricane season).

The insurance company has a goal of making as much profit as possible – and paying lots of claims, or paying a lot on any one claim, cuts into that bottom line. For the insurance adjuster wanting to succeed at that insurance company, showing the boss that he or she can keep as much of the company money inside the company as possible is the thing to do.

Florida Bad Faith Insurance Law 

The Florida legislature recognizes that insurance companies do bad things here in Florida, and a law has been passed to deal with their shenanigans. Florida Statute 624.155 protects people when an insurance company acts wrongfully, or “in bad faith.”

However, there’s a hitch. Unlike some other states, in Florida a bad faith lawsuit cannot be filed until the underlying claim itself has been resolved: the plaintiff in a bad faith insurance case must show the court that there has been determinations of (1) liability and (2) amount of loss before the lawsuit can proceed. This is known as the “resolution requirement.”

Another hurdle: the notice requirement. Before the bad faith lawsuit can proceed in a Florida court, formal notice must be given to the insurance company and the carrier has sixty (60) days to make things right.

Read: Abusive Insurance Adjusters – Leveling The Playing Field

What is Florida Insurance Bad Faith? 

Wrongdoing by an insurance adjuster or an insurance company in the processing of a valid insurance claim can form the basis of a bad faith lawsuit under Florida law. If the claim is denied outright, or if the claim is underpaid, then the claimant may be able to force the company to do the right thing by suing them for insurance bad faith.

Some examples of bad faith by insurance companies are:

  • Investigation of the claim is unreasonably slow
  • Investigation of the claim is not done fully
  • Investigation of the claim includes false information
  • Stalling processing the claim unreasonably
  • Dragging their feet in paying the claim for no good reason
  • Failing to notify the claimant of settlement offer within the policy limits by the other side
  • Denial of an insurance claim for a ridiculous or unreasonable reason
  • Denial of the claim based on unreasonable reading of policy language

Are You a Victim of Insurance Bad Faith? 

Not every insurance claim denial will form the basis of a bad faith lawsuit under Florida law; however, it is important for anyone who suspects that they have not been fairly dealt with by an insurance company to learn whether or not their situation has a legal remedy.

  • For instance, if an insurance adjuster notifies someone that the policy is not going to cover their loss, then that person might be wise to have their own legal counsel read their policy to confirm whether or not all that legalese really bars their claim or not.
  • Also, if things have been going on for awhile and suddenly, the insurance company offers to pay something — but it’s an amount that is not nearly enough to cover all your losses, then getting a second opinion on things may reveal that the company has made a lowball, bad faith offer.

Most Florida personal injury lawyers will meet with an insured who is suspicious of a bad faith insurance claim at no charge and together the lawyer and claimant will decide whether or not to go further together in pursuit of a claim against the insurance company for bad faith.  For many plaintiffs, that meeting with their advocate only served to confirm their suspicions — their insurance claim had been wrongfully denied, they had been a victim of bad faith — and Florida law was there to provide them justice.

What Should You Do?

A good piece of advice if you are having difficulty with an insurance adjuster, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your rights. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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