If your insurance company has denied your claim or resolved it unsatisfactorily, you may be able to bring a bad faith claim against them in court. Of course, not every denial constitutes bad faith. As Miami insurance claim lawyers, we are experienced in determining whether an insurer has handled a claim appropriately and in recognizing bad faith insurance practices. For a policyholder, the first step is to educate yourself as to what your insurance company is obligated to do. The law requires insurers to act in good faith and to engage in fair deals. Specifically, they are obligated to:
- Recognize your claim;
- Investigate in a prompt manner;
- Respond quickly to your communications;
- Not slow down the progression with unnecessary forms; and
- Offer actual reasons for denial of your claim or delays in the process.
There are Two Types of Bad Faith Claims
A “first-party” bad faith claim arises when an insurance company unreasonably refuses to pay a claim or to properly investigate a claim. A “third-party” bad faith claim is when an insurance company unreasonably fails to defend, indemnify or settle a claim within policy limits or to investigate a claim for a different-party, such as when the insured (the first party, you) buys insurance from the insurance company to protect against claims from another (the third party).
Florida Law on Bad Faith Claims
The good news for bad faith claimants in Florida is that the law is quite clear. The statute provides that “any person may bring a civil action against an insurer when such person is damaged” by certain acts by the insurer, including:
- Not attempting in good faith to settle claims when, under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so, had it acted fairly and honestly towards its insured and with due regard for her or his interests;
- Making claims payments to insureds or beneficiaries not accompanied by a statement setting forth the coverage under which payments are being made; or
- Failing to promptly settle claims, when the obligation to settle a claim is reasonably clear, under one portion of the insurance policy coverage in order to influence settlements under other portions of the insurance policy coverage.
Florida courts have interpreted the good faith requirement in Florida as a “duty to their insureds to refrain from acting solely on the basis of their own interest in settlement.”
Bad faith claims may also be based on violations of Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act, which sets forth specific acts that would be considered bad faith.
Insurance Companies Must be Given an Opportunity to Cure
Before you can bring a bad faith claim, the insurance company must be given 60 days to cure the alleged violation. To begin the process, the policyholder is required to file a notice with both the insurance company and the Department of Financial Services. It they settle the claim to your satisfaction within 60 days, then you no longer have a bad faith claim. If not, the next step is to file a complaint in court.
Let Miami Insurance Claim Lawyers Assist You With Your Bad Faith Claim
If you think your insurance company has acted in bad faith, we welcome you to contact Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin for a consultation. Our firm focuses its practice solely on representing corporate and individual policyholders in large and complex insurance recovery matters.Share