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Insurers Have a Duty to Act in Good Faith

Fri Oct 20th, 2017 on     Bad Faith Insurance,    

In Florida, insurers owe their policyholders a duty of good faith to refrain from acting on exclusively on the basis of their own self-interest in handling a claim and in their decision-making surrounding a settlement.  The insurer is required by Florida law to handle claims brought against their policyholders with the degree of care and diligence that would have been exercised by a reasonably prudent person in managing their own business.

If you are a policyholder and believe that your insurer may have violated their duty to act in good faith when handling your claims, you may be entitled to bring a bad faith insurance claim against your insurer.  Let’s take a look at some of the basics.

Bad Faith Conduct

Section 624.155 of the Florida Statutes provides policyholders with a civil remedy when their insurer has, among various other acts:

  1. Not attempted in good faith to settle claims when it would have done so (given the circumstances) had the insurer acted with due regard for the policyholder’s interests; or
  2. Failed to settle claims in a timely manner when the obligation to settle a claim has become reasonably clear.

Florida law also establishes various common law violations giving rise to bad faith insurance claims, including but not limited to:

  • Failure to initiate settlement negotiations when liability is reasonably certain and damages are substantial.
  • Failure to disclose policy limits.
  • Failure to accept a reasonable settlement demand.
  • Failure to keep policyholders reasonably informed of the claims process.
  • Failure to adequately investigate claims.

Determining whether an insurer has acted in bad faith in Florida requires a full examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident at-issue — the actions of the insurer will be considered under the reasonably prudent person standard.  For example, suppose that an insurer does not settle a claim brought against their policyholder.  The court will look at the full circumstances of the insurer’s decision and determine whether a reasonably prudent person in the same position would have moved forward with settlement.  If yes, then the court may find that the insurer has violated their duty of good faith.

If you are a policyholder whose insurer has delayed or denied your claims, has failed to defend you in a lawsuit, or has otherwise acted in bad faith, you may be entitled to recover damages that are a reasonably foreseeable result of the violation.  Such damages may even exceed your policy limits (when accounting for interest, litigation costs, attorney fees, and in some cases, punitive damages where the violative acts were willful, wanton, and malicious or in reckless disregard for the rights of the policyholder).  Successfully litigating a bad faith insurance claim requires an experienced attorney who is well-equipped to navigate the difficulties.

Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A. is a Florida insurance litigation firm that has — for over twenty-two years — represented policyholder clients who have been subjected to bad faith conduct by their insurer.  Our firm is dedicated to providing clients with personalized service.  We believe that by thoroughly studying the facts of your case and developing a customized strategy, it is much more likely that you will achieve a favorable result.

Call 305-577-3996 to setup a free consultation with an experienced Miami bad faith insurance attorney today.

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