Pressure Claimants until They Accept “Smaller Walk-away Settlements”: The UnFair Practice of Many Insurnce Firms

A day or two after a natural calamity, such as a hurricane, independent adjusters are often seen eagerly assessing the extent of damages to properties. Many of these adjusters are new to the job or untrained and already content in making their evaluation of the damages from where they stand on the ground. Thus, it is not surprising that the estimations they come up with are often incorrect, resulting to low amount of financial benefit that an affected family’s property insurance provider will have to pay.

The adjusters and the small amount of benefit, however, are actually strategies employed by many insurance firms to save themselves from releasing big cash. Other insurance providers would even deny claims outrightly, using technical error as the reason of denial of the claims. The fact is, this so-called technical error is nothing more than a skipped box or a missed signature.

To policy holders, whose claims have been denied or whose benefits are either delayed or way below the amount stipulated in their policies, these situations are both frustrating and infuriating.

Insurance providers owe policy holders genuine commitment or the duty of good faith and fair dealing, especially in paying claims. Under the common law this duty is spoken of as the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” which ought to be contained in every insurance contract. However, many providers transact business with dishonesty or fraud at the back of their minds. They enter into an agreement with policy holders with no real intent of living up to the terms of the policy they sell, while others intentionally twist the meaning of what is contained in a policy sold. This fraudulent act is what legal experts call “bad faith,” and there are different tactics employed by insurance firms to commit tthis act in ways hard to detect, like: failure to investigate a claim promptly and thoroughly, unreasonable denial of claim benefits or delay in the payment of claims, and so forth.

Anderson Cooper, the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°, calls this tactics employed by insurance firms as the three “Ds”: delay, deny and defend. Delay the handling of a claim; deny that a claimant is hurt or that damages are only minor; and, defend their decision even in lengthy court battles.

Often, even very small offers are accepted by some people. Pressure claimants until they accept “smaller walk-away settlements” – this guiding slogan is contained in many Insurance firms’ training manuals and, sadly, many policy holders are victimized by it. Due to this unfair practice, many policy holders walk away from billions of dollars that insurers now keep for themselves.

“In Texas,” according to the Smith Kendall, PLLC, law firm, “when an insurance company denies or delays payment of a policyholder’s home or commercial property insurance claim when it knew, or should have known, its liability on the claim was reasonably clear, the carrier may have acted in bad faith. The State of Texas—and many other states—recognize that a special relationship exists between an insurance company and its customers, which gives rise to a duty of good faith and fair dealing. In some states, a policyholder may have both common law (i.e., law created by cases) and statutory (i.e., law from statutes or regulations) bad faith claims.

An experienced and aggressive attorney may be able to help you navigate this challenging area of the law and make sure that the insurance company is held responsible for its bad-faith actions.”

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