What to Know About Common
Bad Faith Insurance Tactics
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident and had to deal with the other driver’s insurance adjuster, you probably know first-hand the rollercoaster ride they can put you through in order to low-ball or deny your claim outright.
The same is true, unfortunately, even when dealing with your own insurance company. Say a tree falls on your roof and you seek compensation from your homeowners’ insurance policy. The adjuster drags his feet and, after what seems like an eternity, offers you a quarter or a half of what the repairs will cost. You look at your policy and it promises full compensation. What do you do?
Fortunately, Idaho has a statute on the books to deal with these types of insurance adjuster “bad faith tactics.” Even relying on this law regarding “Unfair Claim Settlement Practices” can be tricky, however. You must prove that the adjuster acted “unreasonably” to bring a claim under the statute.
That’s where our team at Shep Law Group can come to your rescue. As personal injury attorneys, we have been dealing with insurance adjusters and their trickery for a long time. If you’re in or around Boise or Meridian, Idaho, or anywhere in Ada County or Canyon County, rely on us to fight for the fair compensation you deserve.
Idaho Laws Regarding Bad Faith Tactics
Idaho Statutes Title 41, Chapter 13, deals with “Trade Practices and Frauds.” It lists fourteen categories of acts and omissions that can be deemed “an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance.” However, each category relies on versions of the word “reasonable.”
For example, the insurance company must conduct a “reasonable investigation,” should settle claims “reasonably promptly,” and should not attempt to settle a claim for less than an amount to which a “reasonable man” would believe he was entitled.
If the issue goes to court, the insurance company is obviously going to argue that everything it did was “reasonable” and will cite actions that you, the claimant, did or did not do that either slowed the process down or led to the settlement that was offered. They will use your own statements against you to try to pin the fault on you and justify their actions.
Tactics Used by Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters are highly trained to achieve the lowest possible settlement or to deny a claim altogether. They receive training that incorporates what is called “claim evaluation techniques,” that teach them negotiation tactics they can use to either deny claims or negotiate a minimal payment.
If you’re injured and the adjuster calls, they may start by asking how you’re doing. If you answer “fine” or “good,” they’ll use that to show that you’re either not injured as much as you say you are, or that you’re faking the injury.
As another example, if the adjuster can show that you were 50% or more at fault for the accident, they can claim it was mostly your fault and say they owe you nothing. This is because Idaho uses a “modified comparative negligence” standard, which seeks to assess the liability of all parties involved in an accident. If you (as the injured party) are found to have been 20% at fault, your settlement can be reduced by that percentage, say from $10,000 to $8,000.
The rule is a legal one, aimed primarily at lawsuits and their resolution during a trial, but adjusters will try to use the same negligence standard during settlement talks, especially if they can get it to work in their favor.
In injury claims, the adjusters can and will often assert that you’ve reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI) and that it cannot cover your medical expenses going forward since further treatment will be ineffective. This is another method to cap — or low-ball — compensation for medical expenses resulting from your injury.
Other Signs of Bad Faith Negotiation
Some signs that the adjuster and the insurance company are negotiating in bad faith include:
- Dragging out the process so that you give up, or so negotiations go on longer than the statute of limitations
- Failing to investigate thoroughly or promptly
- Confusing you — or even threatening you — with citations of law, even if the law is not relevant or true
- Misstating terms of the policy from which you’re seeking compensation
- Refusing to provide you with the forms and documents you need to complete the claims process
- Making unreasonable and unnecessary requests for documentation and proof
- Changing adjusters in midstream to prolong the process and frustrate you, again in hopes you give up
- Failing to provide you with information relevant to your case
- Low-balling your settlement and saying it’s the final and only offer
- Denying your claim altogether without giving a valid explanation based on law or provisions of the insurance policy itself
- Taking an unreasonable amount of time to pay out the settlement once it’s agreed upon
The Role of Your Attorney
Unless you’re just suffering a couple of scratches and a bent fender, it’s probably not a good idea to go it alone against insurance providers. Remember, if you agree to a settlement, that’s the last penny you’ll see from the insurance company — even if your injury worsens or reappears weeks or months later.
Seasoned attorneys like our team at Shep Law Group have been dealing with insurance companies and their tactics and tricks for years. We can deal with them while you recover at home from your injuries or property damage
In many cases, we can work to convince the insurance companies to fulfill their obligations without going to court. If negotiations stall, we can counter with a well-worded demand letter to argue for the optimal outcome for your situation. After that, a lawsuit may be the final recourse, though matters often don’t go that far.
If you’re in the greater Boise area or anywhere in the state of Idaho, contact us today for a free consultation. We will fight for your rights throughout the settlement process and represent you and your best interests.