Insurance Bad Faith Expert Witness
The majority of our expert witness Cases involve allegations of insurance bad faith and/or deceptive trade practices. What constitutes insurance bad faith may be based on statutory or common law, and/or may hinge on accepted insurance industry customs and practices.
Call (817) 980-4897 to discuss your case.
Allegations of insurance bad faith dealings under Common Law are primarily based on an “implied duty of good faith and fair dealing” in the course of conduct. Many states have enacted Unfair Claims Practices Acts specifically detailing certain accepted and/or prohibited carrier conduct for claims handling. While laws vary by state, statutory language typically makes reference to:
- Unfair or deceptive trade practices.
- Deceptive claim practices.
- False statements / False advertising.
- Unreasonable delay / failure to investigate.
- Improper standards used to deny claims.
- Failure to disclose policy limits.
- Failure to explain policy conditions, provisions, exclusions.
- Failure to act reasonably promptly in responding to communications.
- Failing to promptly provide a reasonable explanation for claim denial.
- Unreasonably compelling insureds to institute litigation.
- Breach of contract.
- Misrepresentation of policy or insurer.
- Misrepresentation of a material fact.
- Failure to disclose a material fact.
- Failure to promptly settle claims once liability is clear.
While bad faith statutes typically detail acceptable/prohibited carrier conduct, policyholders also have certain “Duties In The Event Of Occurrence, Offense, Claim Or Suit” when filing a liability claim, including notifying the carrier:
- As soon as practicable.
- How, when and where the "occurrence" or offense took place.
- Names and addresses of any injured persons and witnesses.
- Nature and location injuries or damages arising out of the "occurrence" or offense.
- Cooperate with the carrier in the investigation and settlement.
- Immediately send carrier copies of any demand, summons, legal papers.
- Assist carrier in obtaining records and other information related to the claim.
Policyholders have certain obligations to the carrier when filing property claims. The insured’s “Duties In The Event Of Loss or Damage” include:
- Notify the police if a law may have been broken.
- Prompt notice of the loss and a description of the property involved.
- Provide a description of how-when-where the loss occurred.
- Take reasonable steps to protect Covered Property from further damage.
- Provide inventories of the damaged and undamaged property.
- Permit us to inspect the property proving the loss and examine (and/or) make copies your records.
- Permit us to take samples of damaged and undamaged property for inspection, testing.
- Send us a signed, sworn proof of loss.
- Cooperate in investigation or settlement of the claim.
In certain cases, an insured can be held to have committed bad faith by:
- Failing to provide relevant claims information.
- Misrepresenting relevant claim information.
- Failure to cooperate.
While most claims are handled properly, if/when allegations of insurance bad faith are sustained, damages potentially payable to a plaintiff include:
- Statutory penalties and/or interest.
- Liability in excess of policy limits (e.g. – Stowers Doctrine).
- Attorneys fees.
- Punitive damages (which may exceed actual damages).
- Emotional distress.
- Economic loss (e.g. – loss of credit rating, loss of professional reputation).
Since entering the insurance industry in 1973, Mr. Daniel has seen acts of insurance bad faith committed by agents, carriers, and insureds. He has seen cases where bad faith actions were readily evident, as well as cases where allegations of insurance bad faith had no basis in fact.
Whether your client is a defendant or plaintiff, or whether you are trying to prove or disprove allegations of bad faith we provide forty years experience with insurance industry Customs & Practices. We are frequently retained to opine whether carriers and/or agents met or failed to meet reasonable Standards of Care regarding the case at hand.