The harsh truth of insurance coverage is that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. It doesn’t matter whether your claim involves a car accident or a dog bite. Insurance companies don’t make money by paying claims. 

Of course, you can expect insurers to offer some resistance to paying almost any claim. Beyond a certain point, however, they are breaking the law by playing games with your personal injury claim. You will need a bad-faith insurance lawyer to help you with the case.

What Is Bad Faith?

Your deal with your insurance company is codified in the insurance contract you signed with the company. In the event of a third-party claim, your rights arise from a liability insurance policy entered into between the at-fault party and their insurance company. 

No matter the policy’s terms, Oklahoma law requires the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The specific obligations that good faith and fair dealing place upon an insurance company are defined by case law. In general, it comes down to common sense. 

An insurance company must meet your reasonable expectations and refrain from interfering with your right to receive fair policy benefits. To do otherwise constitutes “bad faith,” for which you may sue an insurance company under state law. 

In addition to the amount of your original claim, a successful bad faith claim might entitle you to damages for emotional distress, consequential damages, and punitive damages.

Examples of Bad Faith Insurance Practices

See below for common examples of bad faith practices.

Arbitrary Denial of a Claim

The arbitrary denial of a claim is one of the most common bases for bad faith insurance claims. To deny your claim, the insurer must have a reason. You pay your premiums every month, and in return, your claim deserves serious consideration. The insurance company acts in bad faith if it denies your claim for no reason or for a frivolous reason.

It is appropriate, however, for an insurance company to deny your claim on the basis that you have not properly supported it with evidence. 

Failure to Investigate

An insurance company has the obligation to investigate claims asserted by their policyholders and eligible third parties. In many cases, insurance companies conduct sloppy or inadequate investigations and then, armed with the wrong facts, proceed to deny a claim on that basis. 

One way of doing this is to send an insurance adjuster to determine facts that only an expert is qualified to determine. 

Unreasonable Delays

One way that an insurance company will deny your personal injury claim is to subject you to endless processing delays. They might “nickel and dime you” with numerous small delays, or they may simply drag their feet. 

They may be hoping that you are unaware of the statute of limitations deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Oklahoma, this deadline is two years after the accident in most cases. If you miss the deadline, your claim will be worthless. 

Most insurance companies will not dare try this tactic once you have hired an experienced lawyer to represent you. If they do subject you to unreasonable delays, however, you might be able to win an insurance bad faith claim.

Misrepresentation of Policy Terms

Insurance policies are often written in legalese – dense, hard-to-understand language that includes many legal terms of art. If you have not retained a lawyer, you might depend on your insurance adjuster to interpret policy language for you. 

Even if you do make this mistake, the insurance company acts in bad faith by misrepresenting the meaning or consequences of insurance policy language.

Excessive Demands for Documentation

Another strategy to deny your claim indirectly is to bury you in infinite mounds of paperwork. In principle, there is nothing wrong with an insurance company seeking documentation of your claim. When their documentation requirements become so extreme that it interferes with your right to recovery, however, a problem arises. Excessive demands for documentation are the functional equivalent of unreasonable delays.

An Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyer Will Protect You Against Bad Faith Insurance Practices

Hiring an experienced Oklahoma City personal injury attorney to represent you can help you stack the odds so that you can demand a fair deal. Remember—since your attorney only makes money if you do, they have no motivation to play games with your claim.

For more information, please contact the Oklahoma City personal injury law firm of McGuire Law Firm at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

McGuire Law Firm – Edmond
200 E 10th Street Plaza
Edmond, OK 73034
United States
(405) 513-5658