Settling Insurance Claims: Good Faith or Bad Faith?
Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk
Car Insurance, Insurance Claims, Lawsuit
Insurance companies have a general duty of good faith when settling the claims of their policyholder. This duty of good faith can come from statute, common law, or both. For example, in addition to having a common law duty of good faith, insurance companies in Florida have a statutory duty to act fairly and honestly toward their insureds. Insurance companies that fail to act in good faith may end up in court defending a claim for bad faith.
Contrary to what many believe, it’s not bad faith for an insurance company to deny a claim that is not covered under a policy or to defend a claim subject to a reservation of rights. So what does it mean to act in good faith? According to one court, the duty of good faith requires insurance companies to investigate the facts, give fair consideration to settlement offers that are not unreasonable, and settle, if possible, where a reasonably prudent person, faced with the prospect of paying the total recovery, would do so.
Those damaged by an insurance company’s failure to act in good faith may be able to sue the insurance company for bad faith. Bad faith claims can be first-party or third-party.
A first-party bad faith claim occurs when an insurance company is sued by its insured for refusing to settle the insured’s own claim in good faith. First-party claims typically involve allegations that the insurer improperly denied coverage, underpaid a loss or delayed payment without adequate justification. A common example of a first-party bad faith claim is when an insured is involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist and does not reach a settlement with his or her own uninsured motorist liability carrier for costs associated with the accident.
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, Insurance Claims