What is Insurance Bad Faith?

Insurance almost always comes into play when you are facing a crisis of some sort. Whether you have been in an accident, had your home hit by a tornado, or have become disabled, you are likely to be in a highly stressful period of your life. Insurance should help relieve that stress, not increase it.  

Oklahoma, like many other states, has recognized that there is a special relationship between you and your insurance company. In addition to the specific obligations owed to you by your insurer under your policy, Oklahoma law requires the insurance company to act in good faith and deal fairly with its you. The insurance company should be there to help you and address whatever you are facing, not to make your life even harder. 

If an insurance company breaches its duty to you, it is acting in bad faith, and a separate cause of action exists, which is related to but distinct from the claim made under the policy itself.  

An insurance company acts in bad faith when it acts unreasonably under the circumstances towards its own customers. It is more than just an accident but less that an intentional or even reckless act.  

Insurance companies can act in bad faith in a number of ways. A few examples include: 

  • Failing to pay you at the time it has the knowledge to know you are entitled to benefits. 
  • Delaying payments that should be made. 
  • Failing to disclose available benefits, coverages or other relevant provisions of your insurance policy. 
  • Misrepresenting to you pertinent facts or policy provisions relating to coverages at issue. 
  • Failing to adopt and apply reasonable standards for investigation of your claim;  
  • Failing to conduct a full and unbiased investigation of your claim. 
  • Failing to reasonably evaluate the results of its investigation.  
  • Basing its denial on restrictions not contained in the policy; 
  • Failing to promptly and fairly settle a claim once the party’s fault (or lack of fault) has become clear. 
  • Denying a claim based on your failure to show the damaged property without proof that the insurance company has requested access 
  • Denying a claim based on time of filing when the insurer has not been prejudiced by the delay.  
  • Requesting you sign a release that extends beyond what you are being paid for 
  • Denying a claim based on contentions that medical treatment was unnecessary before having a medical expert review the necessity of that treatment.  
  • Requiring you to file suit to get paid what you are owed.  

Bad faith damages can include your financial losses, mental and emotional stress, embarrassment, and loss of reputation. Juries regularly award bad faith damages well in excess of the actual amount owed by the insurance company under the contract, giving you a chance to truly be made whole.  

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed until you enter into a retention agreement with us.
Young person with broken arm reviewing insurance documents with a lawyer.

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