You’ve suffered property damage and it’s time to deal with your insurance company. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy process at times. You’ve paid your premiums on time, in full and you’ve filed a claim. Then, the side of your insurance company no one wants to see is revealed. Be aware of these habits of bad faith insurance claim handling so you can advocate for yourself, or hire professional help to get your claim paid.
A typical habit with insurance companies is to be unresponsive to your efforts to contact them. Your phone calls are ignored or not promptly returned; people are conveniently not available when you call and messages go unanswered. In most states, this is illegal to do. Keep a log of calls and put as much correspondence as you can in writing.
Delaying the Investigation or Payment of Your Claim
In a bad faith insurance claim, unjustifiably delaying the investigation or your settlement are common tactics. The insurance company may also use unethical or illegal methods to investigate to find information that may invalidate your claim. It may also delay a payment once your claim has been processed.
The insurance company may try to bog you down in paper. Asking for excessive amounts of documents to begin the claims process is a bad faith tactic. The company may also ask for an inordinate amount of information not related to the case, knowing you can't provide it, opening the avenue for a denial of your claim.
Underpaying Your Claim
An insurance company may attempt to take advantage of your need for cash to make repairs, or take advantage of the fact you’re tired of dealing with it and you’ll settle to stop the aggravation. Then, it makes an offer to settle for much less than the claim is worth. It’s important not to accept a lowball offer, it closes the claim and you may not have enough funds for repairs.
Knowingly Misrepresenting the Terms of Your Policy
It’s important to read and understand the terms of your insurance policy. If it’s difficult to do this on your own, and it can be for many, find someone who can help you. It’s a common bad faith insurance claim tactic for the insurance company to knowingly misrepresent the terms of a policy to their advantage. It leverages this into either a denial or an undervalued settlement amount.
Changing the Terms of Your Policy
An insurance company may change the terms of your policy and use this to its advantage. Once the terms have been changed, it will state that the new terms do not cover your claim and no money is due. This is an illegal and unethical tactic. It’s important you have the policy that was in effect at the time of the claim. Save your documents when your policy is sent, and review it to see if the change was included at the time - or added later.
Forcing a Lawsuit
When an insurance company employs any of these tactics, it may be trying to force you sue to get the compensation to which you are legally entitled. This entails hiring a lawyer, spending valuable time and effort, and creates further delays as court cases add more time to the process.
If you feel you’re not being made whole for your covered damage, an independent adjuster working for you may be the answer. They will be able to analyze the strength of your policy and investigate a bad faith insurance claim. Doing this can help now and for future claims that may arise.