Purchasing insurance is not something you do hastily. Often, buying a new insurance policy is the result of an important change in your life. You have bought a new home, your child has passed the West Virginia driving test or your employer’s health care coverage is not adequate for your needs. You likely researched several companies to learn which provided the most coverage for a reasonable price.
Insurance can bring peace of mind, especially at a time when an accident, illness or other disaster may leave you feeling on edge. You pay your premiums, and the insurer provides the amount of coverage you agreed upon when you purchased your policy. Unfortunately, insurance companies may put their own profits over your peace of mind. While it is possible that a denied claim results from a mistake or misunderstanding on your part, it may also be an act of bad faith on your insurer’s part.
What to expect after filing a claim
When you file a claim for insurance benefits, the law requires your insurer to take certain steps within a reasonable amount of time. This is in your contract, and an insurer who violates these terms may be breaching that contract. While every state is different and each policy has its own restrictions and exclusions, the following are examples of duties all insurers must fulfill:
- Investigate your claim thoroughly and provide you with the results of the investigation and a valuation of your claim
- Begin and complete the investigation within a reasonable amount of time
- Pay any settlement agreement related to a claim against you up to the amount for which you have purchased eligible coverage
- Defend you against a claim that your policy covers but for which you may not be liable
- Settle a case by offering a reasonable payout to protect you from litigation damages that exceed the coverage of your policy
Recognizing when your insurer is acting in bad faith is not always easy. In fact, rather than beginning by filing a case in civil court, you may be wise to ask for an evaluation of the circumstances by an experienced attorney. Taking this step can provide you with clear answers to your questions and options for alternatives to resolve your dispute. Your attorney will also use his or her knowledge and experience to determine the best course of action if you feel your insurer is acting in bad faith.