For those who are lucky enough to never face-off against a car insurance company after a car accident, you may believe that those insurance companies always act in good faith. However, this is simply not the case, and insurance companies often act in bad faith after a car accident.
Why would insurance companies not act in good faith?
In a word, money. When you think about how insurance companies make money, it makes sense. Every dollar they pay is a loss from their bottom line. And, especially, for those car insurance companies that are publicly traded, their fiduciary duty is to their stockholders, not you, their customer. Indeed, it is an open secret that claims adjusters and insurance representatives compete to see who can pay out the least money.
Does that mean that insurance companies act in bad faith?
Yes. Some Seattle, Washington, insurance companies routinely act in bad faith (also known as, unfair claims practices). This happens any time an insurance company refuses or delays the payment of legitimate claims. Bad faith also occurs when insurance companies do not justify or explain their settlement amount, and when a claim adjuster also fails to explain how they came to their estimations. Finally, bad faith occurs when your insurance company lies, exaggerate, or omits key policy information.
Are bad faith insurance practices illegal?
Yes. No state allows car insurance companies to act in bad faith. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly by an insurance company after a motor vehicle accident, you have options. This is true regardless of whether the bad faith insurance carrier is your insurance company or the negligent driver’s insurance company.
What are your options?
First, tell them they are acting in bad faith, why you believe they are acting in bad faith and that you know that bad faith is illegal. Commonly, this will solve your problem immediately. Seattle, Washington, insurance representatives do not want to drag out claims or get their legal departments involved. They also do not want you to contact insurance regulators or an attorney because this will cost the insurance company money.
Second, if that doesn’t work, contact your state’s insurance regulatory body. They will have a complaint line, and sometimes, they will even have an online complaint process.
Finally, if you are not already working with an attorney, you will likely need one to fight for you. Insurance companies are notorious, and sometimes, you need someone who can force your issues to get them solved.