November 9, 2023
You have researched the plan, paid your premiums, and submitted your forms. Most people would consider these the right steps to take when making an insurance claim. Based on these reasonable actions, they would also assume that their claim would be appropriately paid in a timely fashion.
Unfortunately, this does not always happen. In fact, insurance companies are known for delaying, underpaying and outright denying claims. While some claims may be invalid and others may be submitted incorrectly, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to treat their policyholders unreasonably and unfairly. If this sounds like your experience, you should seek the advice of a seasoned and reputable lawyer. Consulting an Oklahoma City insurance claim lawyer can provide the necessary expertise and support in navigating these complex issues.
Types of insurance claims vary, but whether you have submitted health insurance, auto insurance, home insurance, or any other claim—you deserve to be treated fairly. After all, you did your part by paying your premiums and following the claims process If you’re facing challenges with a denied home insurance claim in Oklahoma, consulting with Oklahoma home insurance claim denial lawyers can ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the fair treatment you deserve.
Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always have your best interests at heart; as such, they may operate in bad faith by short-changing you or even outright denying your claim.
When this happens, it is important to understand your legal rights to request documentation from your insurer—as well as the other steps necessary to potentially pursue a bad faith case against your insurance company.
Has Your Insurance Company Acted Inappropriately Regarding Your Claim?
What Is Insurance Company Bad Faith?
The difference between an insurance company meticulously handling your claim and acting in bad faith can sometimes be difficult to ascertain. After all, these organizations do have the right to investigate claims to make sure that the company is responsible for them under the terms of your policy and that they are legitimate and accurate. So, the passing of time or a partial payment alone may not be an act of bad faith.
That said, insurance companies are organizations whose primary goals are to make money. Thus, their loyalty is not to their policyholders but to their shareholders. On one hand, policy premiums are recognized as income, so insurance companies are anxious to sell coverage. But on the other hand, paid claims are expenses and decrease profitability. It makes sense that these organizations would look to minimize them. Sadly, they often do this by acting in bad faith.
Specifically, insurance bad faith refers to a situation where an insurance company violates the duty of good faith it owes to its policyholders. The duty of good faith requires an insurance company to treat its policyholders reasonably and fairly. This requires the insurance company to investigate and decide claims based on coverage, looking just as hard for reasons to pay the claim as for reasons to deny it.
When an insurer acts in bad faith, it can be held accountable in court and may be required to pay significant monetary damages.
Common Examples of an Insurance Bad Faith Claim
While some insurance behaviors are acceptable, others simply are not. When insurance companies commit these actions, they are operating in bad faith. Some common tactics are shared below.
- Claiming Non-Coverage: This happens when the insurance company states that the policyholder is not covered for their submitted damages when, in fact, they are.
- Making Offers Below a Claim’s Worth: Quite often, insurance companies purposefully provide a low settlement offer, one that is significantly below what their clients are entitled to receive.
- Refusal to Provide Reasons for Denial: Some companies hesitate or fail to share the reasons why claims were denied. Policyholders are entitled to know the “why.”
- Using Biased Experts: Sometimes insurance companies will bring in “experts” of their own to determine the value of a claim. Unfortunately, these experts are often on the side of the insurance company; they are paid by them and are looking for ways to justify offering unfair settlements or denying claims outright.
- Threatening Legal Action: Policyholders are entitled to submit claims for their losses. If an insurance company representative makes threatening statements regarding legal action against them, they are acting in bad faith.
- Delaying the Process: Insurance companies often slow-roll claims because they know that many individuals will either walk away or accept less than they should receive. Employing actions like requesting unnecessary additional information, not responding to emails and calls, and not completing investigations in a timely fashion are among the tactics they take.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of potential bad faith acts, just a few examples of the many ways insurance companies operate inappropriately and illegally. A bad faith insurance lawyer can help determine if your experience constitutes bad faith.
Managing Your Insurance Claim
Handle the Process Meticulously
Submitting insurance claims can be a complicated process, one that must be done according to the requirements of your carrier. It is critical that you make sure you understand exactly what you need to do to make a claim.
It is likely that your insurance company will have specific forms that need to be completed. They may require correlating documents depending upon the type of claim. For example, medical claims must usually include bills and billing codes from the physician or provider. Additionally, you should submit your claim and documentation in the manner in which the company requests. Some organizations have online upload portals, while others require you to email or even send a hard copy of your paperwork.
Make sure you dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” when making an insurance claim. Complete all the forms in their entirety. Failing to do so can result in delayed or denied claims, and these mistakes would be deemed your fault. Additionally, keep accurate notes of when you submitted your claim as well as any correspondence you receive from the company. It is better to communicate via email so there is a paper trail of all your conversations.
When Your Insurance Claim Is Denied
Don’t Be Afraid to Question the Insurance Company’s Decisions
If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith, one of the most important steps you’ll want to take is to question the insurance company’s decision of the claim in writing. Additionally, demand that the insurance company put its position on your claim in writing as well.
Many insurance adjusters play fast and loose with policy language and the justification for their decision when you talk to them, but it’s a different matter when they have to formally share their reasoning in writing.
Once an insurer puts its position in writing, they will have a hard time changing their position.
If you don’t “get it in writing” you might be surprised how the adjuster’s version of what was said to you changes when they are under oath in a deposition or in court.
How a Bad Faith Insurance Attorney Can Help
Engaging a Seasoned Insurer Bad Faith Lawyer Can Prove Valuable
If you suspect your insurer is being unfair or dishonest with you (for example, about the facts of your claim, the value of your claim or the coverage under your policy), you’ll want to make sure you have the right legal team on your side. This is not something you’ll want to do on your own.
By working with an experienced bad faith lawyer, you can get the legal advice and guidance you need to determine whether you have a case and how to proceed. Each person’s experience is unique — there is no one right answer regarding moving forward. A seasoned bad faith lawyer will actively listen to your experience and use this information to decide if you have been the victim of bad faith and advise you what to do.
A Bad Faith Claims Lawyer Can Help You Recover Damages
At Doug Terry Law, we know how important it is that you receive the reimbursement to which you are entitled for your insurance claim. This compensation allows you to conduct repairs, pay medical expenses, pursue necessary treatment and be reimbursed for monies you have fronted.
These payments are not insignificant; not receiving what is rightly owed to you can negatively impact your financial future both in the short term and, in some cases, forever.
We are ready to go to work for you immediately and fight tirelessly to maximize your settlement. We can help you recover . . .
- Your unpaid claims as required by your policy
- Legal and court fees
- Costs resulting from non-payment (like interest on late payments)
- Compensation for emotional pain and suffering.
Additionally, in some cases insurance companies can also be held liable for punitive damages. These are assigned to punish the organization for their actions and to serve as a deterrent to this company and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
Contact Doug Terry Law Today
Don’t waste time if you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith. There are statutes of limitations relating to bad faith insurance lawsuits (five years in Oklahoma). Waiting too long can make it impossible for you to bring action against your insurer. Additionally, involving us sooner rather than later can speed up the reimbursement process.
Schedule your free consultation with Doug Terry Law today to receive valuable guidance and find out more about what your case may be worth. You can reach our office by calling 405-463-6362. Our bad faith insurance attorney is well-versed in Oklahoma insurance law and ready to go to work for you immediately.