April 2, 2024

Has your car insurance company unreasonably and unfairly denied your damage claim? If so, you are not alone. Unfortunately, these refusals to pay happen all of the time. You see, insurance company claim departments too often create a culture among their adjusters that encourages them to do whatever it takes to pay less on the claims of the company’s policyholders, even when that means engaging in unreasonable and unfair claim handling practices. These bad faith tactics are unethical and may, in fact, be illegal.

Quite often policyholders are unaware of the fact that the law requires insurance companies to treat them in compliance with the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

Therefore, when their insurance company delays and underpays their claims, they simply accept the offers as final. They do not believe they have recourse and often are too intimidated to stand up for themselves.  Knowing what to look for and appreciating that you have options is the first step in righting this wrong. It is important to understand that working with a reputable Oklahoma City bad faith insurance lawyer can improve your chances of maximizing your insurance settlement.

Recognizing When Your Insurance Company Has Acted in Bad Faith

Some car insurance claim denials are reasonable and fair, but others are not.  Identifying a bad faith claim is the first step in addressing your insurance denial. Below we have discussed some of the actions that could be categorized as bad faith under the law.

Offering Unfairly Low Settlements

Low-ball settlement offers represent one of the most common and infuriating bad faith tactics — and one of the most effective. Insurance adjusters understand that drivers lead busy lives and are eager to avoid as much hassle as possible. They also have the “power of the checkbook” and assume that uninformed drivers will accept unreasonably low settlement offers if they don’t know that they’re eligible for more.

Your car insurance company is obligated to fairly pay your claim in accordance with your car insurance policy language. This includes covering expenses that include repairing or replacing your vehicle, medical bills for current and future treatment, and even pain and suffering. An Oklahoma bad faith insurance attorney can review your case and let you know if the offer you received was, in fact, unfairly low.

Unreasonably Delaying Your Claim

For car insurance companies, time is incredibly valuable, so they leverage time by delaying damage payments. They recognize that you need your insurance settlement to pay for your expenses and may simply accept the first, low offer they make.

They often seem  to ignore your questions; your calls, emails and letters may be responded to slowly or not at all. They may repeatedly ask for additional information or documentation of your claim, even when it is unnecessary.  In effect, the adjuster may use these foot-dragging tactics to make receiving a fair settlement as difficult as possible. The law recognizes that  unreasonable delay is the same as a denial of the claim, and that delay can amount to bad faith. An experienced insurance bad faith lawyer can review the entirety of your situation and clarify whether your insurance company’s response time was excessively slow.

Refusing Reasonable Requests for Documentation

If your insurer arrives at a decision that you find objectionable, you should request documentation justifying their decision. You are entitled to this information. Ask them to provide you with a detailed written explanation of why your claim was denied.  Insurance companies acting in bad faith may refuse to provide you with copies of the documents (e.g., the policy, the reports of “experts,” the medical records) upon which they relied. This is an act of bad faith.

Using Biased Experts

Insurance companies sometimes hire “experts” (including doctors, lawyers, engineers, and mechanics) to assist in evaluating claims. if this is done correctly, it can be an act of good faith, as these professionals can provide much needed information. Problems arise, however, when insurance companies engage experts they know to be biased in their favor.  For example, if an insurance company sends a policyholder’s personal injury claim to be evaluated by a doctor they have used (and paid) hundreds of times, who never believes a policyholder is really injured, that doctor is biased. When insurance companies rely on biased experts, they are acting in bad faith.

Engage a Seasoned Oklahoma Bad Faith Insurance Attorney Today

Having an Experienced Professional Advocate for You Can Make a Difference

Simply engaging an auto insurance bad faith lawyer can make a real difference in the result of communication with your insurance company. While adjusters know that most individuals don’t have the knowledge and time to effectively question and counteract a decision, they are also aware that bad faith attorneys know how to prove bad faith actions.

Insurance law is complex, and insurance companies have teams of experts experienced in denying claims.  After all, each claim they pay is an expense which decreases their profitability. It is in their best interests to minimize them.

If your insurance company has denied your auto insurance claim and you believe their actions were taken in bad faith, it may be wise to reach out to an Oklahoma bad faith lawyer for a consultation. Attorney Doug Terry  has significant experience in this area and is happy to help. Contact him today at 405-463-6362 today to schedule a free consultation and learn how he can assist you.

Attorney Doug Terry

Attorney Doug TerryAfter 25 years practicing in a larger firm, Doug chose to open his own practice in Oklahoma City. He brings his wealth of knowledge and his skills as a litigator to bear for his clients in matters of insurance bad faith, personal injury cases and class actions. He won $200 million and $25 million verdicts for clients in cases in which an insurer denied a health insurance claim. Doug has the distinction of being awarded a Martindale-Hubbell “AV Preeminent” rating from his peers in the legal community. He has also been selected as an Oklahoma Super Lawyer. [Attorney Bio]