After a car accident, we rely on insurance companies to cover our losses. Depending on the language in the policy, the insurer may provide compensation for past and future medical bills, lost income, property damages, and other losses. Unfortunately, insurance companies may act in bad faith and delay, devalue, or deny your claim.
If you’re dealing with a bad faith insurance claim in Alabama, a personal injury attorney can help protect your rights and work to ensure that the insurer stops these tactics.
Insurance Companies Must Engage in Good Faith
Insurance companies should evaluate each claim in good faith, whether it is a:
- First-party claim that the policyholder is filing
- Third-party claim that an injured party is filing after the policyholder caused damages
When processing the claim, the insurance company must:
- Honestly interpret the claim
- Complete a full investigation of what happened
- Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the claim
- Consider how likely the claimant is to file a lawsuit and/or bring a case to a trial
- Settle the claim within the insurance policy limits
The insurance company must carry out each of these tasks within certain time constraints. For example, according to Ala. Admin. Code r. 482-1-125.07, the adjuster usually has 30 days to inform the claimant whether they accept or deny the claim.
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Common Examples of Bad Faith Tactics Insurance Companies Use
“Bad faith” tactics typically refer to when the insurer uses unfair strategies for their financial benefit at a claimant’s expense. Unfortunately, our lawyers have seen many insurance companies act in bad faith. Some of the tactics they use include:
- Refusing to negotiate a fair settlement despite clear liability
- Failing to conduct a full investigation
- Offering a lowball settlement
- Failing to interpret the policy to benefit themselves
- Delaying the claim
- Delaying the insurance payments
- Not responding to requests for documentation
- Not giving a valid reason for denying the initial claim
- Threatening or making disrespectful comments to the policyholder or the claimant
What to Do When Insurance Companies Drag Their Feet
You don’t have to put up with the insurance company’s bad faith tactics. After proving that you are entitled to collect compensation for damages, they should provide you with a fair settlement.
When they are dragging their feet, here are some things you can do:
- Contact the claims adjuster: Per Ala. Insurance Regulation § 482-1-125-.06, insurance companies generally have 15 days to tell you that they received your claim. Follow up with them if you haven’t heard from them in that time period.
- Keep a record: Write down every time you speak to the adjuster on the phone and what you discuss. Don’t delete any emails you’ve exchanged with the adjuster, either. This documentation can back up your claims of the insurer’s bad faith.
- Reach out to the adjuster’s supervisor: If the adjuster still isn’t returning your calls or emails, contact their supervisor. They may be able to help you resolve any issues with delays.
- Submit a complaint to the Department of Insurance: An Alabama insurance board member can investigate the issue with your claim. They may call the insurance company to determine why they are not cooperating with you. The insurance board’s interference may prompt the adjuster to speed up the process and pay you.
Persistence is key. It’s okay to call the insurance company every couple of days to ask for an update.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Right to a Fair Settlement
There are things you can do to safeguard your right to compensation and help prevent the insurance company from acting in bad faith, such as:
Seeking Prompt Medical Help
After an accident, go to the doctor right away. They will diagnose your injuries and start treating you. The longer you wait to seek medical attention, the more time you give your injuries to worsen.
Waiting to get treatment also gives the insurance company room to blame your injuries on something else or claim that you made them worse.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer to Manage Your Claim
It can be hard to determine when the insurance company acts in bad faith. It may benefit you to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. While you recuperate at home, they can:
- Gather evidence to prove the other party’s negligence
- Communicate with the insurance company
- Protect you from bad faith tactics
- File your claim on time
- Negotiate for fair compensation
Your lawyer can provide all of these services on contingency, so they will only take payment if you receive compensation.
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Connect with Morris Bart & Associates, LLC for a Free Consultation
If you are in the thick of a bad faith insurance claim in Alabama, an attorney with the Morris Bart law office can help you seek the compensation you need.
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