We carry insurance policies to cover some of our most prized property. The purpose of these insurance policies is to cover the cost of any damages you suffer when property is destroyed or damaged.
When you submit a claim to your insurance company you expect that you will receive the money you need to fix the situation. Insurance companies are legally required to act in good faith and pay out on the valid claims you submit.
When an insurance company denies your insurance claim in bad faith you can be put in an incredibly difficult financial situation. Fortunately, you have the right to file a bad faith claim for damages against your insurance provider.
At Citywide Law Group, our attorneys can help to get you the money you need from your insurance company. We know that a claim denied in bath faith can have disastrous consequences, so we will do everything in our power to make sure that you are compensated for your losses.
We will thoroughly investigate your situation, gather evidence to support your case, and fight to hold your insurance company accountable. Call our personal injury attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you during this difficult time.
Insurers Must Act in Good Faith
An insurance policy is essentially a contract between you (the owner of property) and an insurance company. You agree to make consistent payments to your insurance company in exchange for coverage on a specific piece of property. When your property is damaged or destroyed you submit a claim to receive insurance proceeds to cover the extent of the damage.
When insurance companies receive your claim they must act in good faith. This basically means that they can’t do anything to unfairly interfere with your right to collect insurance proceeds. They must promptly and thoroughly investigate the claim and analyze your request. If they decide that your claim should not be paid in full, or denied altogether, they must provide a reasonable justification for their adverse decision.
When your insurance company does any of these things they have breached their implied promise of good faith. This is known as bad faith.
Bad Faith Claims
If you believe that your insurance claim has been mishandled and/or unjustly denied you can file a bad faith claim for damages. Your claim will only be successful if you can establish and prove the following elements:
- You and the insurance company entered into a contract,
- You did all or substantially all of the significant things that the contract required of you,
- All conditions required for the insurance company to act had occurred,
- The insurance company unfairly interfered with your right to receive the benefits of the contract, and
- You were harmed by the insurance company’s conduct.
What this basically means is that you have to prove that you had a valid contract with your insurance company, you’ve kept your end of the bargain and, when asked to pay out on a claim, the company wrongfully denied your request. It is important to note that this denial must have harmed you in some way. Most times, this harm will be the financial burden you suffer as a result of the denied claim.
Which Behavior Can Be Considered Bad Faith?
Bad faith means more than just refusing to pay out on a valid claim. If your insurance company engages in any of the following behaviors, and you are harmed as a result, you may have a valid claim of bad faith:
- Changing the terms of your insurance policy agreement without your knowledge and/or consent,
- Poorly and/or inadequately investigating a claim,
- Delaying an investigation without cause,
- Denying benefits without a reasonable justification,
- Failing to explain your rights as a policyholder,
- Failing to defend you in a legal matter, and
- Refusing to accept a settlement within policy limits.
Remember, your insurance provider must act in good faith at all times. If any of their conduct unjustly prevents you from getting the insurance benefits you are entitled to receive they can be held financially responsible for your damages.
Recovering Bad Faith Damages
What can you recover from your insurance company if they acted in bad faith? In California, victimized policyholders are entitled to recover actual and special damages. Actual damages must compensate you for the actual financial losses you have suffered because of the bad faith conduct. This means that an insurance company must pay damages for all of the harm their conduct caused, including harm that could not have been anticipated. Expanding actual damages to include unexpected harms ensures that a victim is properly compensated for all of their losses.
Since victims have to take extra steps to recover the insurance proceeds they are legally entitled to have, California allows them to recover additional damages. These special damages are intended to compensate the victimized policyholder for emotional distress (including anxiety, humiliation, and mental suffering), attorney fees, and any other harms that may have occurred.
Filing a Bad Faith Claim for Damages in Los Angeles
If your insurance company has acted in bad faith, causing you to suffer harm, you may be entitled to monetary damages. You have a limited amount of time to file a legal claim for damages, so it is important to speak with an experienced Los Angeles bad faith attorney as soon as you can. At Citywide Law Group, our attorneys understand how important insurance payments can be when your prized property is damaged or destroyed.
If your house burns down, the insurance proceeds can be essential to keeping a roof over your family’s head. If your car is damaged in an accident, you may not have the money you need to fix it right away. When your car insurance company drags its feet and/or denies your claim, you may be put in a very difficult position. We will fight to make sure that insurance companies keep up their end of the bargain and compensate you the harms you have suffered.
Call our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn about the benefits of filing a bad faith claim for damages. We will review your case, explain your rights as a policyholder, and answer the questions you have.