Bad Faith Insurance Attorney San Diego
What is “bad faith” in terms of an insurance company or policy? Insurance company policies in California are a contract between the insurance company (or it’s “assigns”) and the policy holder. The policy holder promises to pay premiums based upon specific parameters established in the insurance policy. While the “insured” policy holder pays the agreed premiums the insurance company has a legal responsibility to cover the liabilities or risks covered by the policy, and to pay validated claims that are covered under the agreement.
Unfortunately, there is an inherent conflict between the interests of the policy holder and the profit motivations of the insurance company. In this regard insurance companies attempt to settle claims for the minimum possible amount, and in some cases deny coverage on what appears to be a valid claim and policy.
What happens when the policy holder doesn’t believe the insurance company is upholding their agreement, or is negotiating or acting in “bad faith?” The experienced insurance litigation team at the Watkins Firm has decades of experience in San Diego lawsuits and litigation. We represent policy holders who believe their insurance company has wrongfully denied a claim, or when the settlement offered by the insurance provider is far less than the value of the insured loss or liability. We review insurance coverage and policy terms to determine questions of coverage. We negotiate on behalf of our clients and when necessary file a lawsuit for insurance bad faith.
What Qualifies as Insurance Bad Faith?
Generally speaking, insurance bad faith occurs when an insurance company doesn’t provide the benefits promised in the insurance policy. California law closely governs the insurance business, and insurance companies are held to a high standard with regard to payment of claims against a valid insurance policy. These laws are designed to protect California policy holders from unreasonable actions and settlements on the part of the insurance company. Some of the actions that constitute bad faith include (but are not limited to):
- Refusing to pay a valid claim or make a “good faith effort” to settle a valid claim in a fair manner; Forcing the policy holder to file a lawsuit due to the insurance company’s failure to act or offer a fair settlement
- An attempt to settle a claim for far less than what is reasonable based upon the materials provided to the insured at the time of application, written statements and even advertising at the time of the policy purchase
- Attempting to use one part of a claim to reduce the benefits paid in another associated portion of the policy settlement
- Denying policy coverage or payment when a valid policy or contract exists and a valid claim is submitted
- Failing to provide timely reason(s) for denial of coverage
- Failure to respond or take action on a claim in a timely manner; Includes the failure to approve or deny a valid claim in a timely manner
- Misrepresenting policy coverages or trying to mislead policy holders with respect to what is actually covered
- Attempting to influence a policy holder not to hire a lawyer
- Using intimidation or legal threats in an attempt to force the policy holder to accept a smaller settlement
You may wish to review our Insurance Bad Faith FAQs for additional information.
What Can a Policy Holder Do to Hold an Insurance Company Accountable for Actions in Bad Faith?
The attorneys at the Watkins Firm will review the specifics of your case and advise you on the potential actions you can take against an insurance company who is acting in bad faith. We may file a breach of contract lawsuit against the insurance company for failing to uphold the terms of the policy agreement. When an insurance company has acted in bad faith we pursue additional “damages” which can include recovery of any related economic losses, the anguish and grief caused to the policy holder by the actions of the insurance company, as well as our attorney fees. When actual intimidation, malice or fraud can be established, California law provides for recovery of additional “punitive damages” to the policy holder.
Contact an Experienced San Diego Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
If you have been denied coverage for a valid claim under an insurance policy in California, or if you feel your insurance company is acting in a suspicious manner or in bad faith we invite you to contact us or call 858-535-1511 for a free consultation. We will discuss the facts of your case, review the insurance policy and coverages and provide sound counsel on the appropriate actions to take.