Many businesses have been affected in unimaginable ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With forced closures to protect communities, many places have had to lay off employees just to keep from going under completely. It is during hard times like these that you should be able to rely on your insurance company to have your back. If you have invested in Business Interruption Coverage to protect your business from a significant loss, your insurance company is obligated to assist you with your claim.
In the case that your insurance company denies your claim or mishandles it in a way that impacts the recovery of your business, this is a potential bad faith claim that requires legal representation to fight.
What Exactly is Bad Faith Insurance?
In Washington, all insurance companies are required to act in good faith, and to abstain from dishonesty and deception. RCW § 48.01.30. This is an important starting point—to understand what “bad faith” is, you have to remember that all insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith towards all of their policy holders.
How to Recognize a Potential Bad Faith Claim
Bad faith conduct can be many things, from not doing a reasonable investigation of a claim, improperly denying a PIP medical or wage loss claim, or failing to give your claim equal consideration. Sometimes this conduct is hard to spot, and can be buried in technical language. It is important to consult with a Washington bad faith insurance attorney to help identify if there is bad faith conduct, and what your remedies may be. Without an attorney to fight your insurance company, you are at a significant disadvantage.
Here are some of the top signs that your insurance company may be acting in bad faith:
• Denying a claim without a reasonable basis;
• Delaying investigation of a claim;
• Taking too long to investigate and/or pay a viable claim;
• Pressuring you to settle your claim;
• Trying to convince you to not consult and/or hire an attorney;
• Misrepresenting what your policy covers;
• Making you jump through unreasonable hoops to pay your claim (continually asking for unnecessary documents or evidence, also known as a fishing expedition);
• Denying a claim without any supporting medical or other evidence.
Anything that feels “unfair” or “deceptive” can be bad faith.
There are many good consumer resources for you to consult to educate yourself on bad faith insurance conduct:
- Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner
- How to File an IFCA Claim
- American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Again, recognizing a bad faith claim can often be difficult when insurance companies are adept at committing bad faith in subtle ways. This is why you should always schedule a free consultation with a Washington bad faith insurance attorney. Having an attorney look over any situation you are unclear about is a great first step to take. Call us today to see if we can help with your bad faith claim. We have an entire Bad Faith Practice Group here to help you!