When Dealing With the Insurance Company is Worse than the Accident

November 16, 2015

 

An extremely frustrating event that sometimes occurs after a car accident is the inability to collect on your claim due to the poor behavior of your insurance company.  For those that have not dealt with insurance companies very often (or ever), the claims process can be daunting and frustrating, and people are not always sure of their rights, as well as the obligations of the insurance company.

What are the requirements on insurance companies?

South Carolina law requires that insurance companies deal with people who make claims under their insurance policies in good faith. Good faith means that insurance companies are obligated to honor the contract they entered into with the insured, and pay all legitimate claims. If your insurance company does not uphold these standard when administering your claim, then you have the option to bring a lawsuit for bad faith against them.

What Does ‘Bad Faith’ Mean?

South Carolina law defines several situations that may indicate bad faith claim practices, or improper claim practices, including:

  • knowingly providing misleading or deceptive information to insureds or third-party claimants regarding coverage under the policy;
  • failing to communicate with claimants about claims in a fairly prompt fashion;
  • failure to promptly investigate and settle claims;
  • failing to settle quickly when liability is clear;
  • failing to offer a reasonable amount to a claimant, forcing the claimant to file a lawsuit;
  • discouraging claims under the policy by threatening to rescind the policy; and
  • any other action that constitutes or results in an unreasonable delay in paying claims, or an unreasonable failure to pay or settle claims in full.

Tips for Effectively Dealing With Your Insurer

Do not be surprised if your insurance company requires you to give an examination under oath (EUO), pursuant to your policy, which can be unnerving for anybody who has never testified in a legal proceeding or under oath before.  If you have been asked to give an EUO, it is often a good idea to consult an experienced car accident attorney to prepare you and help you avoid making any mistakes during your examination that result in your claim being denied.

A denial of your claim by the insurance company is not necessarily bad faith or evidence of bad faith.  What is important in the analysis is how and why the insurance company arrived at its coverage determination.  

What Damages Can You Recover in a Bad Faith Action?

If an insurance company denies your claim in bad faith or otherwise acts in bad faith in the handling of your claim, you can seek damages through a lawsuit.  In addition to compensatory damages and damages on the breach of contract claim that often accompanies bad faith claims, insurance companies can also be hit with punitive damages, if they engage in bad faith claim practices that resonate with the sympathies and passions of the jury.

David Aylor Law Offices Can Help You

David Aylor Law Offices can help you figure out how to proceed, and recover the maximum amount you are entitled to by law as a result of your insurance company’s bad faith claim practices.  Call now for a complimentary consultation, and let us help you get the compensation you deserve for the poor behavior of your insurance company.

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