One of the reasons many people contact an attorney after a motor vehicle accident is because they do not want to fight with the insurance company. Why? Because they believe that it will be hard, complicated and the Garden City, New York, insurance company will act in bad faith.
Is that fear warranted?
Unfortunately, yes. Insurance companies, especially publicly traded insurance companies, have a duty to their stockholders, not necessarily you, even if you are their customer. And, for those who are not their customers, their only incentive is to mitigate damages as much as possible. This means shortchanging you on everything, delaying payments, low-balling offers, etc. The goal is to wear you down.
Does that mean bad faith is legal?
No. Bad faith insurance and unfair claims practices are not legal in any state. Indeed, every state has a regulatory body that oversees insurance companies, and they take complaints from the public when bad faith insurance practices come to light.
What are the signs?
If this is your insurance company, like if you were involved in a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident, your first sign is changing coverage and policy limits or denying you have coverage for something that is included in your coverage. If this occurs, check your policy documents, not just the ones that are online, but the ones they physically sent to you. Verify that this information is accurate, but if you were verbally told something different to induce you to purchase the policy, that is bad faith as well.
For all insurance situations, signs of bad faith include delays on getting a rental car (you should have one that day or the next day), adjuster estimations that are based on nothing, settlement offers without any explanation and waiting days or weeks for updates or communications. If you call or email them, you should receive a call back within 24 business hours.
What do I do?
Do not accept the behavior. If you are working with a Brooklyn attorney, do not speak to your insurance company directly. Everything should flow through that attorney. If you get notifications that seem fishy, forward them to your attorney.
If you do not have an attorney, it may be time to get one. But, at least tell the insurance company you consider their behavior bad faith, and you know it is likely not legal. That, sometimes, can shake them enough to stop the bad behavior. If not, your next step is either to your state’s insurance regulatory, a Kings County attorney or both. Call us today because we are here to fight on your side.