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Dealing with insurance disputes after a motor vehicle accident, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the topic of insurance bad faith. As we noted, most people will probably have a sense of when their insurance carrier is not dealing with them fairly, but not always, and they may have difficulty pinpointing exactly how the insurance company has breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.  

Different states have slightly different language they use concerning the standard of proof for insurance bad faith claims. Most states, though, require a showing that the insurance company engaged in some combination of negligence and intentional misconduct. Here in New York, a plaintiff must prove that the insurance company’s actions amounted to conscious or knowing indifference to the interests of the insured.  

Bad faith can come in a variety of forms, and it is important for policyholders to be able to recognize some of the signs of a potential bad faith claim. Some examples include:

  • Making a low-ball offer for coverage of a claim
  • Unreasonably delaying the assessment of a claim or coverage of a claim
  • Changing the terms of coverage without notice
  • Outright denial of a claim that should be covered under the policy
  • Imposing unreasonable requirements on the insured which are not part of the ordinary claims process

Policyholders should, of course, be sure they understand the terms of their policy, both with respect to their obligations and their insurer’s obligations. Those who feel that they may be receiving unfair treatment can and should seek out the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney. This is particularly important after car accidents, when there is a significant need for insurance coverage.

Sources:

State Farm v. Ricci, 96 A.D.3d 1571, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York (2012).

Claims Journal, “Essentials: What Every Claim Adjuster Should Know About Bad Faith,” Feb. 3, 2011. 

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