The essence of a contract is the promise. There’s more to contracts than that, of course, but for purposes of this blog post, the concept of making a promise cuts to the heart of bad faith insurance. Take denied claims, for example. You made payments on your insurance contract (as you promised, with your hard-earned money), with the expectation that if something bad happens—like serious storm damage to your home—you’d be covered. So the worst happens and you make a claim.
Now, the insurance company goes back on its promise by undervaluing the damage or denying your claim altogether.
What do you do?
Quick Tip No. 1: Remember That It’s a Negotiation
The first thing to consider is that virtually no insurance policy is cut and dried. These contracts involve tricky, serious and sometimes life-changing events: tornadoes, fires, car accidents, etc. So there is nearly always some “wiggle room” in the contract that might allow an insurance adjuster to offer less than you expected—or nothing at all. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses and want to protect their bottom line, despite what their TV commercials say.
But this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
After you’ve made your claim, the adjuster might hope that you just take their offer (even an unfair offer) and go away. That’s what a lot of people do. It’s the classic case of a big organization—the insurance company with adjusters and lawyers—taking advantage of its power over the consumer. And it’s not fair.
But when you get an offer, think of it as a negotiation. It’s not the end, but the beginning. And it might be time to get a lawyer involved, if not right after the storm or accident.
Quick Tip No. 2: Examine the Language in the Policy
It might surprise you how often the language isn’t as cut-and-dried as the insurance company would pretend to believe. The same “wiggle room” that can work to the insurance company’s advantage can also work for you, depending on the circumstances of your case and the language in the policy.
Vague or unclear language can be decided in court or negotiated at the conference table. (Pretrial settlement is a common way cases are resolved.) There may be questions as to how a relevant clause is interpreted, for example, be it in your favor or in favor of the insurance company.
Call The Fell Law Firm for Advice
Remember, insurance companies write these contracts. They have their own lawyers, who don’t write contracts in a way that protects your interests, but their own.
Insurers create their contracts with a mind toward looking out for what’s best for their company, not necessarily what’s best for you. You need an experienced attorney who will advocate your side of the case, especially when you’re facing bad faith on the part of your insurance company.
If your insurance claim was denied, or you received an unfair offer from the adjuster, contact The Fell Law Firm via email or call us at 972-450-1418 for a free consultation. We will help you evaluate your situation and determine the next steps.