Filing an insurance claim? If so, that means something has already gone wrong.
By the time you file an insurance claim, you’ve already experienced some kind of loss or injury, and you need insurance money quickly so that you can repair, replace, or treat whatever problem you’re having. If you find out that your insurance company isn’t protecting you as it should... well, then you’re in even more of a bind.
Insurance “bad faith” is when an insured person or business has purchased a policy and paid premiums so that they will be protected if a loss occurs, but the insurance company refuses to pay the claim, even though it’s covered under the policy.
There are two kinds of bad faith claims:
Your insurance company has a duty to pay claims, as long as the loss is something that’s covered under your insurance policy. You are entitled to the following:
An insurer may not:
Facts: Terry Guthrie was struck by an SUV while riding his bicycle. It wasn’t disputed that the driver of the SUV was at fault for the crash, and Guthrie didn’t have medical insurance at the time. His lawyer contacted GEICO, which was the insurer for the SUV driver, and offered to settle for the policy limits. GEICO refused and offered to settle for a much lower amount. Doing so would expose its insured (the SUV driver) to additional financial risk.
Outcome: A lengthy and complicated court battle resulted in a $2.763 million award to Mr. Guthrie as a result of GEICO’s bad faith in failing to protect its insured.
Usually, the answer is money.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that many businesses, including your own insurance company, would rather save money by avoiding payments to their customers than do the right thing. Sometimes, though, bad faith cases can arise from negligence in successfully negotiating a settlement.
But, an insurance policy is a contract. If you’ve done your part by paying insurance premiums, the insurer needs to do its part, too.
If you experience insurance bad faith, you need to make sure you’re looking at the situation objectively. If you’re dealing with a loss, you probably already have a lot of stressors on your mind. It’s easy to become frustrated by a process that involves a lot of documents, multiple people, and some level of negotiation. It’s possible your claim will take some time, and the number your insurer comes back with might not be exactly what you were hoping to see. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your insurance company is acting in bad faith.
However, if you do think there’s bad faith on the part of your insurer, you should beware of common insurance adjuster tactics and consult an experienced attorney. Be prepared to present every document you’ve completed, any correspondence sent to you, and all facts that you’re able to provide. The lawyer might ask for dates and times when you’ve called or emailed the adjuster, along with other details. The more you can supply, the better case you can build.
You might also consider contacting the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, which is the state agency that handles complaints against insurance companies in Georgia.
Last but not least, you can find a knowledgeable Georgia personal injury lawyer who can help you file a bad faith claim against the insurance company.