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Seattle Insurance Bad Faith

Dealing with insurance companies can often be frustrating. After all, you dutifully pay your premium each month. In exchange, you expect the insurer will pay when you file a legitimate claim.

Insurance companies, however, are not in business to pay claims. They are in business to make profits for their shareholders. And while an insurer may have a valid reason to deny a particular claim, that does not mean they can act in bad faith when doing so. If your insurance company has acted unreasonably in handling your claim, the experienced lawyer at the Emerald Law Group may be able to help you in taking formal legal action.

Insurers Must Act Reasonably in Handling Claims

Washington law declares that all persons involved in an insurance transaction–that means both insurers and policyholders–must act in good faith at all times. An insurer has the right to deny a claim that is not covered by a policy or when the policyholder fails to comply with certain requirements. But the insurer cannot engage in “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” when reviewing or denying a claim. If the insurer does so, the policyholder has the right to file a first-party claim for bad faith.

Some common acts that can lead to a bad faith claim include:

  • The insurance company misrepresents pertinent facts or provisions of the policy.
  • The insurance company fails to acknowledge and act “reasonably promptly” after receiving a claim.
  • The insurance company fails to adopt and implement “reasonable standards” to investigate a claim.
  • The insurance company denies a claim before conducting a “reasonable investigation.”
  • The insurance company fails to pay or deny a claim within a “reasonable time” after receiving a completed proof of loss.
  • The insurance company fails to negotiate a settlement of third-party liability claims in good faith, such as following an accident caused by the policyholder.
  • The insurance company fails to promptly settle a claim where the policyholder’s fault is “reasonably clear.”
  • The insurance company intentionally “lowballs” a settlement offer, thereby prompting the policyholder to file a lawsuit to vindicate their rights under the policy.

An insurance company that acts in bad faith is subject to both common law claims and allegations of unfair trade practices under the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act. Each of these laws provides different types of recovery against insurers who act in bad faith. But these statutes also contain a time limit to take action, typically 3 or 4 years, so it is equally important not to delay in bringing a bad faith claim.

Contact Emerald Law Today

At the end of the day, an insurance company is looking out for its own bottom line. If you need help from someone who will look out for you, it is best to work with a skilled Seattle bad faith lawyer. Contact the Emerald Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation with a member of our staff.

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