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HOW TO AVOID FEES OF BAD FAITH
People insure themselves for peace of mind and safety. In order to protect these interests, it is important that an insurer fully investigates the possible grounds that can support the insured's claim and act quickly.
The insurer may not collect sufficient evidence to support a belief that the insurance does not provide coverage and terminate the search.
In addition, the adjuster must:
- be aware of the state law on unfair requirements for settlement procedures and the rules created to enforce the law. Adhering to the statutory guidelines can support a defense against allegations of bad faith;
- send reservations of rights letters and formal denials of coverage to an insured as soon as possible;
- ensure that there is a reasonable factual and legal basis before denying coverage
- responding to the insured's request for clarification of these rights. [ Carolina Bank & Trust Co. towards St. Paul Fire & Marine Co. 279 S. 57th, 310 S.E. 2d 163 (Ct. App. 1983)].
The adjuster should ask the attorney to check the latest federal and state court decisions to determine whether any of the policy provisions relied on to deny the claim have been held invalid in the state where the loss occurred.
The investigator may not:
- turn to fraud, fraud or misrepresentation to obtain information from a person being investigated. Unruh v. Truck Insurance Exchange 7 Cal. 3d 616, 102 Cal. Rptr. 815 (1972);
- eavesdropping, violating the insured's property, shadowing the insured or participating in any other form of harassment without good reason. Pinkerton National Detective Agency, Inc. v. Stevens 108 Ga. App. 159, 132 S.E. 2d 199 (1963);
- destroy evidence supporting the insured's claim for benefits. Upthergrove Hardware, Inc. v Pennsylvania Lumbermans 146 Wis. 2d 470, 431 N.W. 2d 689 (1988);
- making threats of serious consequences forcing the insured to agree on an unfair solution; or
- failure to adequately notify an applicant of his or her rights under the Act, including all relevant limitation provisions.
The only way for an insurer to avoid filing a lawsuit for statutory bad faith in Florida is set out in section 624.155 (2) (d). It follows that the insurer cannot escape liability for breach of section 624.155 by expiring the simple delay of a late payment of the insurance limits after the 60 day period specified in section 624.155 (2) (a). The delay payment by the insurer neither automatically proves nor disproves the first party's bad faith. The insured must still find that the insurer's failure to pay the insurance limits at the end of the 60-day window constituted bad faith under the legislation. The sixty day window is designed to be a cure period that will encourage payment of the underlying claim and avoid unnecessary dispute.
© 2020 – Barr y Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to acting as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance protection, insurance claims management, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud. for insurers and policyholders. He also acts as arbitrator or mediator for insurance-related disputes. He has practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and attorney management attorney and more than 52 years in the insurance industry. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine / ACE Legend Award.
For the past 52 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to enable insurance companies and their claims staff to become professional insurance claims.
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