Bad faith laws are lesser known legislation in Florida. In most car accidents, you can seek damages as a victim if you can prove that the other driver was at-fault. In Florida, this is possible only when your injuries or losses exceed a certain threshold as Florida is a no-fault state. When the losses are below this threshold, you can seek damages from your own insurer under Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
In either case, your claim will be filed with an insurance company and recovering damages from an insurer is typically not easy. This is why you will typically need the help of a Boca Raton car accident lawyer when filing a claim.
The Purpose of Car Insurance
Car insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Florida. When you purchase an auto insurance policy and pay the premium, you are insuring yourself against potential future losses. The insurance company is bound by law to ensure that it fairly covers you for these losses as per the terms of the policy.
Furthermore, the insurance company must also abide by certain rules when assessing your claim and paying for it. When the company fails to uphold these rules or abide by the applicable statutes, it may be acting in bad faith.
What is Insurer Bad Faith?
When an insurance company attempts to turn down a valid claim or refuses to pay a fair amount, it is acting in bad faith. The company may do so using a variety of tactics. These include:
- Not responding to you as the claimant or otherwise delaying the claim for unspecified reasons. This is despite the fact that the insurer is required to respond to your claim within a designated time period.
- Turning down your claim without proving a proper reason for the denial.
- Finding excuses to cancel your policy after you have filed a claim for damages. This is a clear case of bad faith as the insurer begins to look for errors in your policy records simply to find a reason to terminate the policy and avoid paying for a valid claim.
- Misinterpreting the policy terms to suit the insurance company. This is another common tactic used by insurance companies. The terms of an auto insurance policy can often be ambiguous or unclear. Legally, any ambiguity is to be interpreted in favor of you as the claimant. When the insurer does the opposite, it is acting in bad faith.
- Making an unfairly low offer. A telltale sign of insurer bad faith is when you receive an exceptionally low offer against your claim. This offer may cover only a portion of your losses when your policy should cover the full extent of damages.
You may experience insurer bad faith when filing both first-party and third-party claims. First-party claims are the claims you file with your own insurer under the no-fault coverage. If your insurer refuses to honor the claim or rejects it for no valid reason, this is bad faith.
A third-party claim is filed when your losses exceed the legal threshold and you file the claim with the insurance company of an at-fault driver. Insurer bad faith is more likely to occur in third-party claims where a third-party insurer is being asked to cover your crash-related losses.
Florida Laws and Insurer Bad Faith
Florida laws, as defined in Florida Statutes Section 626.9541, clearly prohibit insurance companies from acting in bad faith. This prohibition applies not only to the investigation of car accident claims but to the overall operation and business of an insurer.
If an insurer does act in bad faith, you are legally entitled to bring a separate claim against the insurer for acting in bad faith. This is possible under Florida Statutes 624.155. However, you are required to notify the insurance 60 days in advance about your intent to file a claim before you actually file it. A copy of this notice must also be submitted to the State of Florida.
How Can a Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer Help You?
If you have been involved in a car accident in Boca Raton, FL, it is advisable that you hire a car crash lawyer. Your odds of receiving a fair compensation from the insurance company without unnecessary delays are improved if you have a good lawyer by your side.
Here at Englander Peebles, our lawyers are able to counter unfair insurer objections and make sure your claim is processed at the earliest. We also negotiate with insurers on your behalf to secure a fair settlement. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our lawyers.