The Insurance Company is Delaying My Claim
In Florida, insurance companies have a legal obligation to handle all claims in ‘good faith’. As the standard Florida jury instructions put it, the insurance company must treat your case ‘fairly and with honesty’. One of the primary tenets of good faith is the avoidance of unreasonable delays. Essentially, the company cannot just stick your claim into a folder and hope that you go away or simply get frustrating and agree settle at a lower amount. If you believe that your insurance company is unreasonably delaying acting on your claim, please contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale bad faith insurance attorney for immediate legal help.
Unreasonable Delay in Florida
An insurance company delay can create serious financial stress for property owners. Insurance companies understand this and they may try to use delay as a negotiation tactic. However, that is a bad faith trade practice, and it is prohibited in the state. Florida courts use a ‘totality of the circumstances’ standard when assessing a bad faith claim. In State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. LaForet, the Supreme Court of Florida outlined some specific factors when considering a bad faith claim case:
- Whether or not the insurance company retained a reservation of the right to deny coverage;
- The level of thoroughness and diligence the company used while investigating the claim;
- The efforts the company made to resolve any specific disputed issues; and
- The attempts the company made to actually try to make a reasonable settlement offer.
If a bad faith case reaches litigation, the court will pay a lot of attention to both parties attempts to reach a good faith settlement in the dispute. Insurance companies have an obligation to settle cases when a reasonably prudent person would have settled in a similar situation. Further, in Barry v. Geico General Ins. Co., the court determined that the willingness of a claimant to agree to a reasonable settlement should also be considered under the totality of the circumstances standard. This means that a Florida court might deny your bad faith claim if it believes that you were also acting in bad faith.
When Should I Hire a Bad Faith Insurance Attorney?
Ultimately, there is no hard and fast time frame for when an unreasonable delay has occurred. Every insurance case is different, and in some cases, it will legitimately take some time to do an investigation. However, if the process feels abnormally slow, or the insurance company’s actions seem ‘off’, you should contact an experienced bad faith insurance attorney immediately. You should always watch out for some specific tactics that suggest bad faith, including:
- A seeming unwillingness to investigate your claim;
- Requests for unnecessary or unattainable documents;
- Difficulty to get in touch with a representative at the company who has any real information about your claim;
- The refusal or inability to answer specific questions about your claim; and
- Lack of clear guidance on how your case can move towards a full and fair settlement.
Contact Our Office Today
If you are in Florida, and your insurance company is unreasonably delaying your claim, we will help. The property insurance claims attorneys Geyer Fuxa Tyler have extensive experience handling bad faith claims. Please do not hesitate to contact our office at (954) 990-5251 to learn more about your legal options.