As a policyholder, you are confident that if you pay your insurance premiums on time, the policy will be there for you to protect you when the unexpected happens. That seems like a safe assumption, right? That assumption is based in the faith you have that your insurance policy will protect you from financial harm. What many policyholders might not understand, is that despite the commercials claiming the insurance company will always be there for you, those companies exist to make a profit. The term “bad faith” is used to describe the practice of an insurance company denying, underpaying, delaying payment or terminating a policy when the policy holder files a legitimate claim. If the insurer were to cover every single claim to the degree that the claim is worth, they could easily go out of business. However, if you have a legitimate claim and your insurance company denies it, you have a legal recourse to recover compensation for the damages that the denial of coverage might have cost you.
In 1977, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided that insurance bad faith was an independent tort, and that the insurer could be held liable for compensatory and punitive damages to the insured for the delay in payment of the claim.
How to recognize insurance bad faith
When you are dealing with a huge insurance company, you might expect to face a bit of bureaucracy when it comes time to settle your claim, however, there are many tactics that a claims adjuster might employ that can be classified as bad faith practices. Here are a few things to look out for, but your best option is to work with an experienced insurance bad faith attorney who understands every word of those jargon-filled policies if you think that you are not being treated fairly.
Some examples of bad faith insurance practices might include the following:
- Denying the payment of a legitimate claim
- Delayed payment of a claim with no reasonable basis
- Failure to conduct a thorough, timely investigation of a claim
- Unresponsiveness to emails, phone calls and letters regarding a legitimate claim
- Burdensome proof of loss demands
- Lowballing a claim
- Misrepresenting the meaning of policy language
When you have reached your limit of frustration in dealing with an unresponsive insurance adjuster, and you are beginning to get the feeling that you are facing an insurance bad faith situation, the experienced support of an Oklahoma insurance bad faith attorney will likely turn things around quickly for you. Your attorney is familiar with every tactic that insurers use to try to protect their bottom line and avoid paying as many claims as they can get away with not paying.
As we mentioned earlier, there are legal remedies for policyholders who have been harmed by bad faith practices from their insurer. These damages go beyond what you are entitled to under the insurance policy and they include compensation for:
- Compensatory damages
- Emotional distress
- Legal fees
- Punitive damages
- Other losses
If you are facing an insurance bad faith issue, the more quickly you resolve it, the better the outcome in most cases. All your questions about your potential bad faith insurance claim can be answered by a skilled Oklahoma attorney from the Stipe Law Firm.
At the Stipe Law Firm, we help Oklahoma policyholders obtain the compensation they need for their claims when an act of bad faith on the part of their insurance company caused their claim to be denied. To schedule a consultation at our McAlester office with an experienced Oklahoma bad faith attorney, you may call (918) 505-7741 or fill out our contact form. We are proud to protect the rights of clients throughout Southeast Oklahoma.