We at The Bennett Law Firm offers a free consultation to discuss the legal actions we can take to get the compensation you deserve. Our Oklahoma insurance bad faith lawyers represent insurance policyholders throughout Oklahoma who are dealt with unfairly by their insurance company. Every insurance contract in Oklahoma contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which is implied by law. This duty effectively means that an insurance company stands in a fiduciary relationship with a policyholder and must promptly investigate a claim and look for a basis to pay the claim rather than look for a ground to deny coverage. Although an insurance policy is a contract, a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing constitutes a tort and permits damages that would not be available in a contract claim including punitive damages.
There are almost an infinite number of unfair practices that may constitute bad faith that involve denying, delaying or lowballing an insurance claim. Some common examples of conduct by an insurance provider that may constitute bad faith include:
- Denying a Claim without Reasonable Basis: A denial of coverage itself is not necessarily evidence of bad faith. However, an insurance company that denies a claim without even conducting an investigation or without a reasonable basis may be engaged in bad faith practices.
- Unjustified Delay: This can take many forms including a delay in informing a policyholder whether coverage is being acknowledged or denied or delay in paying a claim.
- Offering Substantially Less than Value of Claim: An insurance company cannot offer substantially less than the reasonable value of a claim.
- Failure to Communicate: Any insurance company has an obligation to communicate with a policyholder regarding the status of a claim, reasons for denial and other reasonable inquiries.
- Requesting Overly Burdensome Documentation: An insurance company may be found to be acting in bad faith when they make unreasonable requests for extensive supporting documentation especially where liability or the value of the claim is reasonably clear.
- Using Intimidating or Aggressive Tactics: An insurance company many not intimidate its policyholder by threatening harm or legal action to discourage a policyholder from pursuing the full value of a claim or other benefit provided under the policy.
- Altering a Policy without Notice or Consent: An insurance company may be liable for bad faith where it attempts to underwrite new exclusions into a policy without informing the policyholder or obtaining the policyholder’s consent.
- Intentionally withholding or Misrepresenting Information: Because of the fiduciary relationship between an insurance company and its policyholder, the insurance company many not withhold material facts or misrepresent information that is pertinent to its policyholder’s claim. If the insurance company is aware of a provision that would provide a basis for coverage, it cannot withhold this information and emphasize another provision that does not provide a basis for coverage.
- Failure to Defend a Policyholder: An insurance company that provides liability coverage engages in bad faith conduct when it refuses to defend a policyholder against lawsuits without a reasonable basis for denying the duty to defend.
- Cancellation of Policy: An insurance company may not cancel a policyholder’s coverage because the policyholder made a claim when the policyholder was not at fault.
This list of bad faith practices is just a small sampling of unfair tactics a policyholder may face. When a person suffers damage to one’s home or suffers injury in a motor vehicle accident, they face stress, anxiety and uncertainty. One should not also have to face unethical and unfair treatment by the insurance company to whom they have diligently paid premiums sometimes for many years. Our Oklahoma insurance bad faith attorneys are intimately familiar with the conduct that is required of an insurance company towards its policyholder and will seek to hold your insurance company accountable if it fails to abide by the standards of good faith and fair dealing.
Feel free to schedule a free consultation online or call The Bennett Law Firm at 405.272.0303 to discuss your legal options with an experienced Oklahoma City lawyer today. No Recovery, No Fee! We will meet with you face to face and can handle cases anywhere in Oklahoma. We can even come to you!