Find the Best Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer in California
Insurance policies are designed to prevent a financial crisis in the event of an emergency. Most people carry a number of policies, covering everything from their health to their automobile to their home. They have carefully compared the available options, determined their needs, and chosen the plan that best suits their needs. They take such care in purchasing a policy because insurnce is an investment and one that offers peace of mind when the unimaginable happens. When someone invests in a policy, they take for granted that the insurance company will support them if they file a claim. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Luckily, California law protects policyholders from erroneous or unscrupulous insurance practices.
How are Insurance Companies Governed in California?
Insurance policies are a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. You pay regular premiums in exchange for coverage in the event you need it. By paying your premiums, you become entitled to the benefits included in the policy. The policy outlines when and how much will be paid, and California law stipulates that this must be upheld anytime a claim is filed.
To this end, insurance companies in California are legally obligated to fully investigate any claim. This means they must exhaust all opportunities to find evidence that supports the claim, and look at all claims objectively. They cannot only look at issues that may lead to a denial of the claim but must instead look for evidence to approve it.
What is Insurance Bad Faith?
California insurance law states that insurance companies must act in good faith, including being fair in all claim practices. When this fails to happen — when the insurance company does not comply with its role in covering an insurance claim — bad faith occurs.
In most cases, bad faith involves unfair denials of insurance claims. In some situations, this is an honest mistake. This is considered a breach of contract, and not bad faith. An insurance law attorney can still help you get the claim approved, however.
Other causes of bad faith include delaying the processing of a claim, changing policies without proper notification and other dishonest business practices. In the most serious cases, bad faith may include purposeful fraud or malice on the part of employees at the insurance company.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
When an insurer has committed bad faith, there are a number of ways the damage can be remedied. Because of the unique nature of each case, however, there is no one-size-fits-all remedy. Instead, how the situation is corrected will depend heavily on the circumstances of your individual case. An experienced attorney who specializes in insurance law will be able to discuss the viability of your case as well as determine an appropriate remedy.
In some cases, your lawyer will represent you in court in order to collect the benefits due to you based on your insurance policy. This is the most common remedy in a breach of contract suit. Many times, you may have additional costs related to the denial of your original claim. Your attorney may also ask for compensation to cover these costs, as well as legal fees in cases where bad faith is proven. If your situation involved fraud or malice on the part of the insurance company or an employee, requests to cover emotional distress and punitive damages may be considered.
How Can I Find an Insurance Attorney?
The Attorney Referral Service of The San Fernando Valley Bar Association helps residents of San Fernando Valley, CA find the lawyers that best fit their needs. Contact us online or by phone at (818) 340-4529 to discuss your particular situation and have us connect you with an experienced insurance law attorney.