When you take out an insurance policy and pay costly monthly premiums, it can be quite shocking when your insurance company fails to treat you fairly. Insurance companies are required to act in the best interests of their customers, but many insurers simply fail to live up to this standard.
Insurance companies are business, and as with most businesses, many will try just about anything in their power to secure the maximum profits possible, even if this means undervaluing or outright denying claims. If an insurance company refuses to process a claim fairly, it might constitute bad faith insurance. This is against the law in Florida, as outlined under the Florida Unfair Claims Practices Act (UFCA).
At Englander Peebles, our Boca Raton insurance claims denial lawyers handle such cases all the time. While Florida law requires insurance companies to honor all their contracts in good faith, some companies try bending the law as far as they can to protect their interests. If your insurance company undervalued or denied your claim in bad faith, you can challenge their decision by filing a lawsuit through us. Contact our office today at (561) 510 7780 to learn more about how we can help you.
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How Long Do Insurance Companies Have to Settle a Claim in Florida?
This depends on the type of claim you have. The Florida laws that apply to these cases are quite broad. For settlements regarding general insurance, the insurer is required to carry out the necessary investigations and deny or pay the claim within a reasonable timeframe. For personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault claims, the insurance company is allowed 30 days to pay or deny the claim.
However, it’s hard to point out the exact number of days within which an insurance company has to respond to your claim before it becomes a legal issue. Keep in mind that every contract will be different from the next, and some may set up certain rules that flex depending on some particular circumstances.
Generally, when an insurance company denies paying your claim with no legitimate reasons to do so, then it becomes insurance bad faith. Bad faith could also arise when your insurance company deliberately makes the process so burdensome and slow that you can’t effectively move forward, in turn blocking your payout.
If you think this is happening to you, your best bet is working with a Boca Raton insurance claims denial lawyer. They can not only help you recover damages including what the policy would have covered along with interest, consequential economic losses, emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
Common Reasons for Insurance Claims Being Denied
Unlike what you hear in ads, insurance companies are never on the customer’s side, nor are you in good hands. Why? Well, an insurance company is a for-profit business, meaning that they don’t exist to pay out as much money as possible.
When an insurance company denies your claim, the first thing you want to do is understand why it happened. Typically, they will have a variety of reasons up their sleeve to deny your claim. Some of the most common reasons include:
Lack of Coverage
Some insurance companies can “hide” the fact that certain kinds of injuries, accidents, etc. are excluded from your policy. These denials will often be based on vague technicalities that you were most likely unaware of while you bought the insurance.
Expired or Lapsed Coverage
Insurance coverages aren’t always extended automatically, and the policyholders can sometimes forget to renew some coverages. When you buy insurance, ensure that you’ve thoroughly gone through the fine print to understand what coverage renews automatically and which you have to renew yourself.
Some people submit claims that contain incorrect information or ones that don’t comply with the requirements necessary for submission. Before submitting a claim, go through the required documentation, the time limits allowed to make a claim, and who needs to receive the claim.
Waiting Too Long to Get Treatment
If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately. Waiting for too long may be interpreted as a valid reason to deny your claim by your insurer. They’ll likely argue that you were not really hurt in the incident.
Failing to Notify Your Insurer
You should notify your insurer that you have been in an accident on time. For instance, if you’ve been injured in an accident, your insurance company should be among the first calls you make following the accident. Waiting for a week or longer may give the insurance company the leeway to claim they were unable to investigate your claim and deny it altogether.
Making an exaggerated or false claim may have the insurance company accusing you of trying to commit fraud. If they investigate and it turns out to be true, you could face civil or criminal charges.
Insurance companies also deny claims purely for bad-faith reasons. In such cases, they give you a tsunami of insurance jargon and justifications, all in an attempt to hide the fact that they won’t pay your claim. If you have grounds to suspect your insurer is acting in bad faith, you should get in touch with an attorney immediately.
What Should You Do if Your Insurance Claim is Denied?
If you believe there has been a mistake in denying your claim, you should not think about filing a lawsuit immediately. In many cases, there might have been an administrative or filing error, which you can work out with the insurance company and have them settle your claim accordingly.
If this is not the case, your first step should be reviewing the insurer’s denial letter carefully. This will help you understand why they denied your claim and address their concerns directly. You might have forgotten to sign a claim form or send in a piece of evidence, which are mistakes you can easily fix. If there are any errors or mistakes, correct them and send the updated file for review. Doing so may make it more likely for the insurance company to pay.
As a rule of thumb, you should archive all of your communications with your insurer, as these may serve as evidence for your lawsuit. To help you make the right moves and avoid some common mistakes, consider consulting with a Boca Raton insurance claims denial lawyer.
How a Lawyer Can Help
One of the main reasons you want to work with an insurance claims denial attorney is to make sure that the insurance company is adhering to the law. Keep in mind that they will likely have a huge team of expert lawyers, and their main function is justifying claim denials and fighting insurance lawsuits. Alone, you will most likely not be a match for their legal team.
When you hire an insurance claims denial attorney, they will be on your side at all times to represent your best interests. They will:
- Have experience in dealing with bad faith cases
- Be able to determine the damages you’re owed more accurately
- Relentlessly fight for your compensation
- Know all the possible alternatives to a lawsuit to save you time and money
- Know the likelihood of success depending on the circumstances of your claim
Overview of Bad Faith Insurance Claims
As mentioned earlier, bad faith insurance claims occur when an insurance company denies a valid insurance claim for no valid reasons. According to Florida law, there are two main types of bad faith insurance claims:
First-Party Bad Faith Insurance Claims
These occur when the insured policyholder takes action against their insurer for failing to pay their insurance claim in good faith. They can be pursued if the insurance company has delayed your payments, refused coverage, or underpaid for your losses.
Third-Party Bad Faith Insurance Claims
These involve situations where an insurer fails to pay third-party claims against you within the limits of your policy, thereby exposing you to liability for damages that go beyond your coverage.
Once the court finds the insurance company acted in bad faith, you can recover the full value of your claim along with compensation for all the damages you suffered because of them denying your claim, including compensation for attorney fees, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
How Long you Have to File a Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit in Florida
Under Florida law, bad faith claims are a contract matter. This is because the obligations and rights of the parties under an insurance policy come from an insurance contract, which is governed by contract law. As such, the 5-year statute of limitations allowed under contract law applies.
Don’t forget that Florida requires the policyholder to give the insurer a 60-day notice of a bad faith violation before filing the lawsuit. This is meant to give the insurer time to “cure” their violation.
Stand Up to Bad-Faith Insurers With a Boca Raton Insurance Claims Denial Lawyer
Never let an insurance company get away with deceptive, unfair, and/or greedy practice. Get in touch with an experienced and skilled insurance claims denial attorney today to help you navigate through Florida’s complex laws and pursue the compensation you need and deserve.
The insurance claims denial attorneys at Englander Peebles will not hesitate to go up against even the biggest of insurance companies. Our team has the knowledge, experience, and resources you need to fight for your rights and pursue compensation on your behalf. Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation with one of our top lawyers.