When your insurance company denies your claim following and accident or injury, it may be a shock. You may check your records to see if you have paid your premiums. You may read over your policy to see if your claim falls under one of the many exclusions. Even then, it may be difficult to understand the reason why the insurance company refuses to pay what you need or prolongs the investigation into your claim.
You may be dealing with an insurer who is acting in bad faith. This term can mean many things, but in general, insurers act in bad faith when they are unreasonable in the way they handle legitimate claims. If you are facing bad faith practices, you may have many questions about your legal options for seeking satisfaction for your claim.
Understanding bad faith actions
Insurance can be a critical factor in obtaining the medical care you need to get well, following an injury, or restoring damaged property following an accident. If you have kept your end of the deal and paid your premiums on time, the insurer owes you a duty to act in good faith, including the following:
- Beginning an investigation promptly after you file your claim
- Completing the investigation in a timely and thorough manner
- Utilizing reasonable and uniform standards when investigating claims
- Dealing with you honestly, including representing the facts and policy provisions truthfully
- Offering you a fair settlement, according to your policy’s terms, or a reasonable explanation of the denial of your claim
Some insurers routinely force a policyholder to take the matter to court to recover a legitimate payout. By doing this, the insurer increases the odds that the injured party will not want to deal with the trouble or stress of a prolonged litigation. This is one of several ways in which an insurance company may attempt to reduce its payouts and so increase its profits.
If your insurance company focuses on its own bottom line rather than honoring its contract with you, the results may not be in your favor. To increase the chances of reaching your goal of obtaining a fair settlement in a reasonable time, you may benefit from meeting with a South Dakota attorney who has extensive experience fighting for the rights of those dealing with unfair treatment from an insurance company.