The problematic thing about bad faith insurance claims is that most people never know it’s happened to them.
When you sign up for a homeowners or property insurance policy, your expectation is “My policy will cover me if an accident happens.” In some cases, when your home is damaged, the plan will cover the expenses and protect you from financial ruin.
However, when the insurance company denies a claim, they promised to pay out — most people don’t know what to do. On top of feelings of confusion and anger, you may not know what options you have left.
If you pay your premium, you are owed the protection in your policy. Louisiana law covers policyholders when an insurance company acts in bad faith. This means you can get more money than the actual cost to repair the damage. There are no exceptions – Insurance companies will not skate on bad faith when you hire Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki, LLC for your property claim.
A Louisiana bad faith lawyer can be your advocate against the insurance company. We can help you understand the aspects of bad faith and make sure your home or business gets the repairs it deserves.
What is Bad Faith Insurance?
Your home or business policy is supposed to protect your investment from any damages. Your insurance company is responsible for upholding the terms of the plan and provide compensation when accidents occur. When you file a claim for damages to your property, and the insurance company denies the claim using any of the following tactics, you might have a bad faith claim.
- Insurance company consistently delays inspections or assessments
- Random requests to provide proof of your loss even after you have done so
- Insurance company makes you contribute to the settlement
- Insurance company does not conduct a thorough investigation
- Insurance company makes a misrepresentation during the claim
- Insurance company grossly underpays your claim without a legitimate reason
Bad faith claims can happen on any property insurance. Homeowners insurance is the most common form of property insurance, but companies may charge for additional coverage depending on the disaster. Types of additional coverage offered by these companies are:
Insurance companies will upcharge for extra protection. Some insurance companies solely exist in coastal states to charge high premiums for high-risk areas.
It’s in these areas where we see many bad faith claims. Just because the insurance company denies your claim doesn’t mean there is bad faith involved. Property owners need to check their policies to make sure they cover the risks posed in their area.
Either way, your insurance company has a duty of good faith and fair dealing when it comes to your home policy. If you feel like your insurance company has not been honest in your claim denial, it’s time to call a bad faith insurance lawyer.
What Constitutes Bad Faith Insurance Claim?
The elements of bad faith differ from state to state, but in Louisiana, where Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki, LLC resides, there exists a “Good Faith Law.” The law states:
“An insurer…owes to his insured a duty of good faith and fair dealing. The insurer has an affirmative duty to adjust claims fairly and promptly and to make a reasonable effort to settle claims with the insured or the claimant or both. Any insurer who breaches these duties shall be liable for any damages sustained as a result of the breach.”
In non-legal speak, your insurance company is required to be fair and timely when settling your claim. The inspections should be quick and thorough. The language in the policy should be clear and not misleading.
Under Louisiana statute § 22:1973, the following six factors constitute a bad faith act by an insurance company:
- Your insurance company manipulated or misrepresented the language in your policy for their benefit
- The insurance company failed to pay the agreed settlement within 30 days (agreement needs to be in writing to prove this)
- Your insurance company alters the policy without your knowledge or content and in turn, uses that alteration to deny the claim
- Your insurance company misleads you about how long you have to file, get paid or have an inspection done
- The insurance company randomly fails to pay you within 60 days of you providing evidence of property damage
- Your insurance company fails to settle your claim without giving a valid reason
All of these are issues that can arise when you file a claim on your homeowner’s or business insurance policy. Insurance companies are not incentivized to pay out their claims. That’s not how they stay in business.
There’s a reason seven companies in the Fortune 100 are insurance companies. USAA, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, and State Farm did not become five of the wealthiest companies in America by paying out every claim they receive.
How to Sue an Insurance Company for Bad Faith?
Hiring a bad faith insurance attorney is the first step to holding your insurance company accountable. When you go about finding a bad faith insurance lawyer, you need to make sure the firm has experience dealing with property claims. Bad faith in a car accident and bad faith in property claims are very different claims.
A simple Google search of “bad faith insurance lawyers” or “property casualty insurance lawyers” will turn up plenty of firms advertising for bad faith. You’ll need to make sure the firm has dealt with your insurance company before. Some of these law firms even send the cases to us. Different companies have different tricks to use when weaseling out of paying policies.
Once you decide on your lawyer, the burden is on you to prove two things:
- The insurer acted in bad faith
- The insurer did so without good reason
Your attorney will play a significant part in helping prove these factors to a court. Once you’ve hired an attorney, it’s important to remember all communication with the insurance company goes through your lawyer. It’s a common tactic for insurance companies to use the things their policyholders say against them in court.
It’s essential you document every aspect of the damage to your home or business. You can accomplish this by taking pictures of the damage and making sure an independent adjuster inspects the house. The insurance company will send an adjuster working for them. The adjuster’s job is to make sure the insurance company doesn’t have to pay out anything they don’t want to.
A top-flight bad faith attorney who deals with property claims will have a network of adjusters they can bring to make sure the inspection is proper.
How Much Do Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers Charge?
Most bad faith insurance attorneys who deal with property and casualty claims work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee is a percentage of the settlement you receive. The exact rate is something to negotiate with your attorney during the consultation.
Louisiana law correctly lays out what kinds of damages you’ll receive as the result of a bad faith claim. Those damages are:
- Two times the actual damages or $5,000, whichever is more
- Damages for emotional distress
- Insurance companies found in bad faith pay the penalty amounting 50 percent of the loss or $1,000, whichever is more
Any additional attorney fees will be paid by the insurance company as well if a court determines they acted in bad faith.
More importantly, you pay nothing unless Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki, LLC wins your case and recovers the proper amount of compensation for your claim.
Hire a Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer Today
When your insurance company denies your property claim, you have options to make sure your home is protected.
At Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki, LLC, we’ve dealt with dozens of insurance companies across the country. We know the tricks of this trade and what it takes to win a proper settlement or judgment.
If you are going to file a property or casualty claim, don’t hesitate to call our New Orleans office at (504) 493-7519