Florida Appeals Court Says Insurers Can Be Sued for Bad Faith Sooner

Florida Appeals Court Says Insurers Can Be Sued for Bad Faith Sooner

Florida Appeals Court Says Insurers Can Be Sued for Bad Faith Sooner

Buy a car? Need minimum liability required. Buy a house? Got to have a homeowners’ policy. Living and breathing? Government says you better have health coverage or else.

So why does it seem then that those insurance companies that we hire and pay regular monthly premiums to continue to fight so hard against acting in good faith as we do, paying what is due when it’s time?

While it isn’t the same as insurers simply behaving as they should, at least Florida has a way for you to fight back. Specifically, Florida law says that any person can file a bad faith civil suit against an insurer when that company does not attempt in good faith to settle a claim when it could and should have done so if it was acting fairly and honestly toward its policy holder.

When you file a claim on a current policy with your insurance company, they are required to do all of the following:

  • Recognize your claim
  • Investigate in a prompt manner
  • Respond quickly to your communications
  • Avoid unnecessary forms which would slow down the progression of a claim
  • Offer actual reasons for denial of your claim and/or any delays experienced during the process

There are a myriad of examples which may violate its obligations to you as a policy holder, and if an insurer does not adhere to these requirements when dealing with a claim you have filed, you may have reason to file suit for bad faith.

The Second District Court of Appeal in Florida is trying to do its part for consumers as well, offering a recent ruling that effectively says people can now file claims against insurers engaging in bad behavior earlier than was previously allowed.

What exactly happened?

Appeals Court Underlines the 60-day Rule in Florida

Reversing a trial court’s decision, the Second District Court of Appeal drove home the obligation of insurance companies to respond quickly to their members communications by underlining the Florida law regarding the 60-day cure period for bad faith by an insurer.

In their explanation, they wrote: “Section 624.155(3)(d) ‘plainly’ states that ‘no action shall lie’ if damages are paid or corrective action taken within 60 days after a CRN filing” and pointed out that “nothing in Section 624.155 required that an insurer actually receive the CRN before the 60-day cure period begins.”

In other words, when people file an insurance claim, the insurance company has 60 days to deal with it according to the law. Insurers have been extending this period by arguing that the 60 days don’t start until they actually receive the claim.

In this particular case, the plaintiff originally filed the claim electronically. However, because the insurer also asked that a copy of the filing be mailed in after, they argued that their 60 days didn’t start until that printed paperwork arrived in the mail.

The court did not agree. In their opinion, the plaintiff’s claim was officially filed when she clicked “submit” on the electronic form, and the 60-day “clock” for the insurance company began to tick at that moment.

Which makes sense, because at that point the insurer should have the information they need. Waiting for a printed copy is just stalling.

A Win for Those Who Have Suffered Bad Faith Insurance in Florida

This is a nice win for people filing bad faith claims who have had to deal with a variety of delay tactics by insurers. Unfortunately, it won’t stop all of these tactics, and history shows it is the insurance companies that have the twin luxuries of time and resources that allow them to hold off on properly dealing with claims or fighting you through the court system if need be.

What kind of tactics do insurers use?

Allstate has a well-documented aggressive litigation strategy – deny, delay, and defend (actually known as the “three ds” internally). AIG has been outed for practices of undue denials and holding claim payments until policyholders complain. Farmers Insurance Group even bases employees’ performance reviews and pay raises on their ability to meet claim payment goals (i.e., the less paid out, the better).

Florida Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers

However, we hope bad faith claim wins like the one described above continue to help turn the tide. While statutes are drawn up and approved by lawmakers, it is common law – the continued judicial precedent developed through the court system which are based on those statutes – that moves mountains.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.


Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim in FL? Know Your Rights

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim in FL? Know Your Rights

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim in FL? Know Your Rights

As a homeowner, you pay your premium for homeowner’s insurance trusting that your insurer will do right by you in the event that the worst happens. That they will pay out for covered damages. This is known as acting in good faith.

Although most insurers operate ethically and meet their obligations to policyholders, it’s also important to remember that insurance companies are still businesses. They always have their own bottom line in mind. This means that it’s in the company’s best financial interest to pay out as little as is legally obligated for every claim that is filed. Sometimes they even go so far as to act in bad faith by avoiding their obligation to you.

As a homeowner, you can maximize your chance of receiving a full payout by making a few preparations ahead of incurring any damages, and knowing your rights when it comes time to file a claim.

To help you do this, we’ve put together a guide for Florida homeowners that details how to get the most out of your coverage, and also what rights you have as a policyholder during the claims process.

Before the Storm

Taking preventative measures before damages occur to your home will greatly increase your chances at getting the maximum possible payout on future claims, and also ensure that you will be eligible to receive compensation for covered damages to your home.

What does this entail?

Taking Inventory

Taking a room-by-room inventory of your home will enable you to provide complete and accurate information to the insurance company for easy processing of your claim. Having detailed documentation ready ahead of time will make the process much more hassle-free, and ensure that you receive full compensation for damages to your home and possessions.

Take a room-by-room inventory of valuables, electronics, furnishings, appliances, and clothing, including the estimated value of each item. Also don’t forget other areas such as closets, the basement, the attic, sheds, and major appliances such as your HVAC system.

Once the inventory is complete, estimate the full replacement cost of your property using current prices, and compare that amount to the coverage limit on your homeowner’s policy. If you feel that your property value exceeds your coverage limit, consider increasing your coverage.

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim in FL? Know Your Rights 1 Bad Faith Insurance South Florida Injury Law Firm


Insurance companies will not cover damages that occur due to improper maintenance. For example, if you fail to maintain your roof and sustain water damage from a major storm, this damage may not be covered.

Make sure that your home is properly maintained by addressing maintenance concerns and hiring qualified professionals to perform routine maintenance checks.

Safety Preparations

If a major storm is headed your way, make sure that all policy information and your property inventory are in place and readily available should filing a claim become necessary.

Also make preparations to keep your family safe. For example, filling up your gas tank ahead of time should evacuation become necessary, planning evacuation routes, making advance plans for your pets, and securing your home against damages as best you can.

Should the need to evacuate arise, make sure you take important documents with you. This includes documentation regarding your home, personal documents, tax returns, insurance documents, and any important medical information for your family members.

The Homeowners Insurance Claims Process in Florida

If your home sustains a covered damage or loss, you should first determine if the loss exceeds your policy deductible. If it does, report the loss to your insurance company as soon as possible by filing a claim. If the covered loss is due to a hurricane but is less than your deductible, you should still file a claim, and make sure you save all invoices for repairs.

It’s important to file a claim in this case because your hurricane deducible is calculated by calendar year. This means if you’re hit by another hurricane later in the season, your prior damages will be applied to your deducible.

If your home has been damaged, you should make emergency repairs to prevent further damage. For example, if your roof is damaged, you should place a tarp over the damaged portion to prevent further water damage to your home. Keep all receipts, and avoid making structural repairs or throwing away any damaged personal property.

Keep a log of the dates, times, and names of everyone you speak to regarding your claim. Communicate in writing if at all possible, and keep a copy of anything you sign.

When you file a claim with your insurer, an adjuster will normally be assigned to inspect your home and estimate the extent of the damages. Make sure that your adjuster is licensed by the state of Florida, and don’t hesitate to hire a public adjuster to negotiate the value of your claim with your insurer.

Options for a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Dispute

In some cases, you may still need to dispute your claim despite making your best effort to keep the claims process running smoothly. In this case, you can file a dispute with the insurance company, which can often be resolved by mediation or appraisal by an independent adjuster.

If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith by failing to meet its obligations to you as a policyholder, read up on what constitutes bad faith insurance, then consult with a Florida insurance lawyer to discuss filing a bad faith insurance claim.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.


How to Win a Bad Faith Insurance Claim in Florida

How to Win a Bad Faith Insurance Claim in Florida

How to Win a Bad Faith Insurance Claim in Florida

Florida policyholders purchase insurance and pay premiums with the understanding that – should disaster strike – their insurer will pay out damages to compensate for losses covered in the policy. That’s the whole point of insurance!

Paying out covered damages is considered to be acting in good faith on the part of the insurance company. However, it’s important to remember that insurance is a business. They provide a service as a way of making money. Because of this, they often seek to do everything in their power to deny or devalue claims.

Usually they do this within the bounds of the law, but sometimes insurers will push the envelope by failing to properly investigate claims, unreasonably denying claims, or unreasonably devaluing claims. This is known as acting in bad faith.

Bad faith insurance claims are an essential element of insurance law, as the ability to file a claim protects the insured and third-party claimants from bad faith practices. However, a bad faith insurance claim can often become quite complex, and insurance companies generally have excellent legal teams to fight back. This means that winning a bad faith insurance claim is rarely easy or simple, and usually requires the help of a skilled Florida injury lawyer.

Below provide an overview of how bad faith insurance claims work in Florida, and – most importantly – how to win a Florida bad faith insurance claim.

Types of Florida Bad Faith Insurance Claims

Depending on the type of insurance and parties involved, there are two types of bad faith insurance claims, first-party and third-party.

A first-party claim occurs when an insurer unreasonably denies or declines to investigate a claim that pays out directly to the insured. For example, if your homeowner’s insurance unreasonably denies your claim for storm damage covered by your policy, this would be a first-party claim.

Third-party bad faith insurance claims tend to be more complex. In a third-party claim, the insurer negligently handles a claim from a third party, such as when the policyholder (first party) buys insurance to protect them against liability claims from another (third) party.

Types of Florida Bad Faith Insurance Claims

For example, if you hit another motorist and the accident is determined to be your fault, the other motorist can hold you liable for damages, which would be covered by your car insurance. If your insurer handles this claim negligently and unreasonably refuses to pay out covered damages to the other motorist, this would be a third-party claim.

Statutory vs. Common-Law Claims in Florida

In our state, insurers are obligated by both common law and statutes to treat policyholders and third-party claimants fairly. Common law is based on judicial precedent, which is formed by prior cases in the court system. Statutes are laws enacted by lawmakers.

In Florida, first-party bad faith insurance claims cannot be made under common law. Third-party claims can fall under either statutory or common-law. However, Florida has very clear bad faith insurance laws, so the majority of third-party claims are also made under statutory laws. We’ll therefore focus on the elements of a statutory bad faith insurance claim.

Elements of a Florida Statutory Bad Faith Insurance Claim

Florida insurance laws very clearly define the duty insurers owe the insured and third-party claimants, and what constitutes acting in bad faith.

Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act lists the following as constituting bad faith on the part of an insurer:

  • Attempting to settle or pay out a claim based on an application that has been altered without the knowledge of the claimant.
  • Making a misrepresentation of fact to the claimant with the intent of offering a less favorable settlement.
  • Failure to investigate claims in a timely manner, or denying a claim without appropriate investigation.
  • Failure to communicate with the claimant in a timely manner.
  • Failure to notify the claimant of additional information needed to investigate a claim, or to explain why this information is required.
  • Failure to offer a reasonable explanation, in writing, of why a claim has been denied or only partially paid.

Breaching any of these duties to the insured or to a third-party claimant constitutes acting in bad faith under Florida law, and is grounds for a bad faith insurance lawsuit.

How to Approach a Florida Bad Faith Claim

As mentioned above, insurance companies employ expert legal teams to protect them from bad faith insurance claims. Therefore, you will almost always need a knowledgeable attorney  on your side to file and negotiate a bad faith lawsuit.

The most common defense insurers use against bad faith insurance claims is that the insured also handled the claim negligently. For example, if you exaggerated damages or did not provide follow-up information in a timely manner, it could be argued that you also acted negligently, and therefore that the insurer’s rejection of a claim or delays in processing a claim were not due to negligence.

This means that it is essential to follow protocol when filing any claim – read your policy before submitting a claim or speaking to anyone. Further, communicate in writing if at all possible. If you must communicate over the phone or in person, record the name and contact information of anyone you speak to, and write a date-stamped summary of the conversation for your records.

How to Approach a Florida Bad Faith Claim

Keep Everything words stamped on a manila folder to illustrate the need to retain documents such as receipts and tax returns or records for future referene such as audits.

Keeping thorough records of all correspondence can thwart your insurer’s attempts to pass the blame off to you. Be sure to speak to you lawyer about how best to document interactions with your insurer moving forward.

Ultimately, going up against insurance companies is not a simple matter, and winning a bad faith insurance suit requires both thorough documentation and expertise. However, it’s often worth it to avoid having to pay out-of-pocket that your insurer rightly should have covered.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

Florida Insurers That Are Known for Bad Faith Practices

Florida Insurers That Are Known for Bad Faith Practices

Florida Insurers That Are Known for Bad Faith Practices

When you think of insurance companies that try to scam their customers by acting in bad faith, you might assume that they’re smaller businesses. Low-rent organizations that you’ve never heard of and certainly wouldn’t use.

However, you may be surprised to learn that there are actually some truly big names on the list of Florida insurers that are known for their bad faith practices. In this post, we’re going to reveal the worst offenders where bad faith is concerned, then explain some things you can do to protect yourself if your claim is rejected.

Insurers That are Most Likely to Engage in Bad Faith in Florida

According to Badfaithinsurance.org, the worst 10 insurance companies who act in bad faith include the following:

  1. Allstate
  2. State Farm
  3. The Hartford
  4. Unum
  5. Farmers
  6. Lloyds
  7. MetLife
  8. Liberty Mutual
  9. American Family
  10. Auto-Owners

Some of those names you may not have ever heard of, but many of them are stalwarts in the industry – including the first two on the list!

How did Badfaithinsurance.org come up with this list? The worst offenders were selected from 3,693 companies representing 655 groups.

Let’s look at a few of these companies in detail to discover why they ranked so high in bad faith insurance practices:


Simply put, the company consistently refuses to pay claims. They also have a high rate of customer dissatisfaction, resulting in many lawsuits. It’s also worth noting that Allstate was also ranked as the worst offender by the American Association for Justice.

State Farm

State Farm has consistently ranked in the top three worst offenders for years. They have a poor record of failing to pay claims and a high number of lawsuits.

The Hartford

Known for frequent denials of claims, The Hartford often ranks high in bad faith insurer categories. Many customers complain about foul play and victimization.


This company denies legitimate claims over and over – even after appeals are made. They are also known for unreasonable delays in processing claims. Fraud has been widespread within their ranks.


This insurance giant lets homeowners and businesses down with its failure to pay. They have inflated premiums and given commissions for shady behavior. Policyholders often complain about failure to pay legitimate claims.

Filing a Florida Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit

If you are the victim of a bad faith insurance scheme, you need the help of an experienced attorney who can assist you in recovering the payments you deserve.

As a policyholder, you can expect claims to be paid under your policy terms. Yet insurance companies may use several tactics to avoid paying you, even for a legitimate claim. Here are some of the ways insurance companies resist making payments:

Filing a Florida Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit

Delaying processing – An insurer may drag out the normal filing process to avoid making a payment.

Skewing evidence – Insurers may select arbitrary evidence to support their position of denying the claim.

Using invalid claim reviews – Some insurers reject personal injury claims based on the testimony of a doctor who hasn’t even seen the insured for a proper examination.

Failure to conduct thorough research – You deserve for every aspect of your case to be reviewed, not only the parts that favor the insurer’s position.

Using deceptive practices – An insurer may offer to pay less than your policy states, fail to inform you of a filing deadline, or use untruths when explaining your coverage.

Cancelled policies – In the worst cases, an insurer may simply cancel your policy to avoid paying your claim.

The Five Factors Florida Uses to Determine Bad Faith

Florida law requires that bad faith insurance cases are filed “after a third party obtains a judgment.” These five different factors must be considered to determine whether bad faith has occurred.

  1. How coverage applies to the claim
  2. Whether the insurer conducted a thorough investigation into the claim
  3. Whether the insurer resolved the issue in a reasonably timely manner, without prejudice
  4. Whether the insured received a notice of the insurer’s right to deny coverage along with a defense of why the claim was denied
  5. Whether the insurer tried to settle the claim despite the dispute over coverage

If the claim is covered under your policy and the liability is clear, yet your insurer fails to pay, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your losses. You may be able to file for compensatory damages as well as punitive damages.

These cases can be complicated and difficult to win. You need the help of a skilled Florida bad faith insurance attorney who has successfully handled cases like yours before. A tough defender will fight the insurance companies to get you the compensation promised under your policy.

The Five Factors Florida Uses to Determine Bad Faith

Bad faith insurance claims need to be filed within strict timelines and under specific regulations. You’ll need to provide as much documentation as possible when filing your claim. A skilled lawyer will guide you through the process and conduct a thorough investigation into your case, looking for the best ways to defend your claim.

Ready to file a lawsuit? Call us today for a free case review. We’ll look at the details of your bad faith insurance case and help you understand your rights to compensation.

 About the Author: 

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

The Two Types of Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Florida

The Two Types of Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Florida

The Two Types of Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Florida

Insurance companies are supposed to be there to help you when you have a great debt or damages to pay. The cost of emergencies, injuries, or lawsuits can be crippling for your family or business, but the proper insurance can protect you.

At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. All insurers have a process that they are required to follow – not related to specific policies, but out of “good faith.” This process includes taking prompt action, responding to claims, and paying the amount of money in the claim as detailed by policy limits.

Unfortunately, sometimes insurers break the rules. They deny claims that should be covered. They cause an unreasonable delay. They offer to pay members far less than the policy says they should receive.

If an insurance company is neglecting its’ duties by acting in bad faith, there are two types of actions that can potentially be taken: third party actions and first party actions.

What are Third Party Bad Faith Actions?

Florida has two different types of bad faith actions that follow different processes according to common law and specific bad faith insurance laws. Most bad faith victims take the statutory action and follow the rules of Florida Statute s. 624.155.

In order to take statutory action, the affected party will have to file a civil remedy notice. The insurance company will have 60 days to take action on the civil remedy notice. If they do not take appropriate actions, then the party can file a bad faith action claim.

The third party involved in the lawsuit may bring up a bad faith claim against the negligent insurance, but only if the compensation exceeds policy limits.

What are Third Party Bad Faith Actions

Third party bad faith actions deal with liability insurance. If you or your business are sued for damages to another person, your liability insurance has the duty to assist you with your defense. In addition to paying defense costs, your insurance also has a duty to pay any compensation that you owe if the case is lost.

Defense costs can be very pricy, and insurance companies often have a limit on how much they will pay if you are sued. However, until that limit is reached, they have a duty to provide you with money and compensation.

If an insurer fails to fulfill its duties, they can be found guilty of third party bad faith actions. Insurance companies who are guilty of this type of negligence must pay the full defense costs and compensation – even if it exceeds the policy limits.

What are First Party Bad Faith Actions?

First party bad faith actions can involve many different types of insurance, including home or car insurance. If, for example, your home floods and you have insurance that covers flooding, you should receive some sort of compensation to cover the cost of the flooding after you file a claim.

The insurer may deny your claim if the damages are not part of the insurance coverage, but they must provide a valid reason as to why they are denying the claim. If the insurance company approves your claim, they have a responsibility to pay you in a prompt manner.

If your insurance does not respond to your claim or refuses to pay part or all of your claim without good reason, they are committing a first party bad faith action. As with a third party bad faith action, victims must file a civil remedy notice before they take further legal action.

Insurer Acting in Bad Faith? Speak to a Knowledgeable Florida Injury Attorney

In a bad faith insurance case, the court will take the following factors into account:

  • The efforts made by the insurance company to promptly address the claim
  • Whether the insurance company made the effort to deny the claim
  • The severity of the case
  • Investigations conducted by the insurance company related to the claim

If the court does not see evidence of the insurance company taking action to properly address your claim, you may be able to receive compensation.

Florida Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer

Not sure about your insurer’s duties and whether they are acting in bad faith towards you? Read over your plan. It may include information and exceptions that apply to your claim or a lawsuit that you are involved in. If your insurer is supposed to cover you and they are neglecting to do so, you may have a bad faith insurance case.

Still not sure? Contact a South Florida injury lawyer today to discuss your bad faith insurance case and your options for taking action.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

Recent Case May Allow Floridians to File Bad Faith Claims Faster

Recent Case May Allow Floridians to File Bad Faith Claims Faster

Recent Case May Allow Floridians to File Bad Faith Claims Faster


You pay your insurance company for peace of mind, assuming that any accidents covered under your policy will be paid for by them in full. However, sometimes an insurer refuses to pay a claim unreasonably. Or fails to conduct an appropriate investigation. Or unreasonably delays investigation.


When these things happen, it is possible that your insurer may be acting in bad faith. That’s the bad news. The good news is that bad faith is illegal, and you may be able to hold your insurer liable for damages.


Under Florida law, policyholders have to go through the regular process before doing this, including waiting until the insurance company conducts an appraisal. In bad faith claims involving unreasonable delays in investigation, this has made filing suit very difficult for policyholders, often forcing them to live with unrepaired damages for months – or even years.


However, a recent case may signal that things are changing. Florida courts just ruled that a policyholder did not need to wait until an appraisal had been conducted to seek damages. This sets a new legal precedent, and may allow other Floridians to receive bad faith damages prior to the appraisal.


Let’s take a look at the case in question, as well as how this may change bad faith insurance law — and how you, the policyholder, could benefit.


Philip Landers v. State Farm Florida


In 2009, Florida resident Philip Landers sustained suspected sinkhole damage to his home and filed a claim with his insurer, State Farm Florida Insurance Co. The insurance company made initial repairs, but Landers hired an independent evaluator who advised that the repairs were insufficient.


After a protracted legal battle, Landers ultimately sued State Farm in 2014 for acting in bad faith, stating that the company had delayed paying policy limits until after appraisal. The court initially ruled in favor of State Farm, but Landers appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.


The appeal court reversed this ruling, finding that the purpose of a civil remedies notice (CRN) is to encourage good-faith efforts to settle claims in a timely manner prior to litigation, not to vindicate further efforts to delay. Further, the court found that filing a CRN prior to appraisal did not make the CRN null and void, and that nullifying the CRN perturbs the purpose of the statute by further delaying the time necessary to assess and pay out claims.


Previous Policy and Why the Landers Case Matters


Here’s why the Landers case matters. Quite simply, it could pave the way to a more streamlined bad faith process. Previously, insurance companies were allowed to request an appraisal in the event of a bad faith suit and/or CRN, delaying any further action until the appraisal had been performed, and nullifying CRNs.


Because many bad faith insurance suits involve delays in investigation and repairs, this policy often frustrated the efforts of policyholders trying to seek justice. However, the Landers case sets a new precedent, allowing policyholders to file CRNs and bad faith insurance suits and seek damages prior to the insurer conducting an appraisal.


If You Have Suffered from Bad Faith Insurance


South Florida Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers


If you believe that your insurance company has acted in bad faith by failing to pay out claims for covered events or unreasonably delaying investigations, you may have a case for bad faith insurance.


You have likely paid your premium for many years under the assumption that your insurer would do right by you in the event of an accident. If your insurer fails to follow through or delays investigations, this can have devastating consequences for your finances and quality of life.


An experienced Florida bad faith lawyer will be able to help assess your case fight for the compensation you deserve from your insurer – get in touch today.



About the Author:


Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.


5 Steps to Take When Negotiating a Bad Faith Insurance Claim

5 Steps to Take When Negotiating a Bad Faith Insurance Claim

5 Steps to Take When Negotiating a Bad Faith Insurance Claim

Getting denied by your insurance company can be extremely frustrating. You pay insurance so that when you need medical treatment, you can get reimbursed!


If your insurer is refusing to reimburse you for something you believe they should be responsible for, don’t just sit and stew over it. Insurers who refuse to pay out for medical expenses covered under the policy may be acting an unlawful manner and subject to a “bad faith” lawsuit.


What Is a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?


When an insurance company is negligent or performs unlawfully during your settlement, it is typically referred to as a case of “bad faith.” Insurance companies have a duty to negotiate in good faith with their clients. Failing to do so requires legal action and consequences.


But claims of bad faith don’t just arise from individuals who do not get the settlement they want. There are a few different reasons an insurance company may be sued for bad faith, including:


  • The claim is not thoroughly investigated
  • The claim is denied without a proper investigation
  • The claim is not paid within a reasonable time frame
  • The settlement is not negotiated or communicated within a reasonable time frame
  • The claim is denied without a reasonable explanation
  • There are no negotiations to settle the claim
  • The policy limits are not disclosed to the client


If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith, take the following steps:


Boca Raton Bad Faith Insurance Claim

Document the Claim. Before you take any action, collect and request all documentation concerning the claim’s denial. Who did you talk to? When did they deny your claim? What was their reasoning? Have they missed any calls or ignored any of your attempts to communicate? Include as many details of your correspondence as you can. This information will be important throughout the entire process of negotiating this claim.


Speak to a Supervisor. Up until this point, you have probably only been speaking with the adjuster who is handling your claim. The next time that you speak to your adjuster, ask to talk to their supervisor or someone in a higher position at the insurance company. Alert the supervisor of the situation and ask what can be done to receive a reasonable settlement for your claim.


At this point in the process, you should mention that you plan on filing a claim of bad faith. Often, notifying an insurer about a claim of bad faith is enough to get the company to negotiate with you and find a reasonable settlement.


Put It in Writing. If mentioning a bad faith claim over the phone does not prompt any swift action, be sure to put your intentions in writing. These letters are typically taken more seriously than a spoken intention. In this letter, you should express your concerns, detail the settlement that was offered, discuss the proper settlement you are asking for, and include any other reasons why you suspect the company is acting in bad faith. Let the insurance company know where you are in the process of filing a lawsuit, or the date you plan to take legal action if a settlement is not negotiated.


File a Lawsuit. Because the mere mention of a bad faith claim can quickly drive a successful negotiation, these cases rarely make it to the courtroom. If they do get to court, however, they’re not easy to win.


Be prepared with proper documentation, and any information on Florida law that supports your suspicions that the company is acting in bad faith. If it is found that the company is indeed acting in bad faith, the judge may require the insurance company to pay damages and court costs on top of the original compensation that you had asked for.


If you feel that it is necessary, you may still file a lawsuit after your settlement has been negotiated. In this lawsuit, you can ask for the damages that were acquired while your insurance company was acting in bad faith and not providing a proper settlement.


Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer

Contact Your Lawyer. This is not the final step – throughout the entire process of negotiating a bad faith claim, you should be in contact with a personal injury lawyer who has experience working with bad faith claims. Your lawyer will help you move through Florida’s insurance laws to negotiate your claim and obtain a reasonable settlement from your insurance company.


If you believe your insurance company has been acting in bad faith and would like to take action, reach out to us immediately for a free case review.


Do I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim

Do I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

Do I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim

Car insurance. Health insurance. Homeowner’s insurance. Renter’s insurance. Life insurance. Pet insurance. Travel insurance. And also insurance for kidnapping, alien abductions, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts.


No, those last several are not jokes. Apparently, there’s insurance for everything. We get insurance for those “just in case” situations that we hope don’t come up but that we’re prepared for in the event that they do. We want to ensure that we won’t deplete our savings if we get into a car accident, need an expensive medical treatment, or have to repair our house after a flood.


And when something does go wrong and we need to file a claim, we want to know that our insurance company has our back. Insurance companies have to act in good faith to investigate your claim and pay you for valid claims.


But what if they don’t? What if the insurance company denies your claim without a reasonable explanation?


It’s not as uncommon as you might think. And if it happens, you may have a bad faith insurance claim on your hands.


What’s a Bad Faith Insurance Claim

What’s a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?


The term “bad faith” is used when insurance companies deny claims for no apparent valid reason. There are numerous examples, actions, and situations that might establish that you have a bad faith insurance claim, such as:


  • Unjustified denial of coverage
  • Failure to communicate important information
  • Failure to have a reasonable investigation of the insured’s claim
  • Refusal to pay a claim without conducting an investigation
  • Failure to pay or deny the claim within an appropriate amount of time
  • Failure to confirm or deny coverage within an appropriate amount of time
  • Failure to try to arrive at a fair and just settlement when it’s clear who is liable
  • Offering much less money to settle the claim than the actual value
  • Failure to quickly offer a reasonable explanation for a claim’s denial
  • Failure to negotiate a claim settlement
  • Failure to answer a time-limit demand
  • Failure to divulge policy limits


So, basically, if your insurance company doesn’t do their job with your insurance claim, you may be able to bring a civil lawsuit against them. But if they made an honest mistake or an error, that’s not acting in bad faith. It has to be done intentionally and without a reasonable explanation.


Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Action


Let’s look at an example of a bad faith insurance claim here in Florida.


In Miami in 2004, Miguel Gonzalez – an uninsured driver – crashed into Juan Chirino – an underinsured driver handling an 18-wheel oil tanker – near the Golden Glades Interchange. The impact of the crash sent Gonzalez’s car across traffic and careening into a head-on collision with David Zucker’s car, where his wife Carrie was also a passenger.


The other two drivers were uninsured and underinsured, but Zucker – whose car insurance was through Geico – had coverage on his policy for uninsured/underinsured motorists.


And since Zucker had that benefit on his policy, Geico was going to be responsible for Gonzalez’s and Chirino’s portion of the car accident. Instead, Geico denied the claim and refused to pay for Zucker’s damages – which included permanent spinal injuries and urological injuries.


So the Zuckers sued Geico and, in turn, a jury found that Gonzalez was 100 percent at-fault and liable for the accident. Which means that Geico would be the one to pay for all the damages.


Boca Raton Bad Faith INsurance Claim Lawyers

Last November – 11 years after the accident – the Zuckers were finally awarded a $14.5 million settlement in their bad faith insurance suit for past and future lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering damages. Of the large settlement, $2.5 million was awarded to Zucker’s wife for loss of consortium – pain and suffering as a result of her husband’s damages.


This is an interesting case because it brings up an important question about damages. After denying Zucker’s original claim, Geico ended up being on the hook for over $14 million. But how much would they have paid if they had rightfully settled the claim to begin with?


Many times, an insurance company acts in bad faith to save themselves some money. And they also bet on the fact that you’re not going to question when a claim is denied. They’re hoping you’ll just accept it and won’t fight for what’s owed to you.


Had Geico acted in good faith, perhaps they wouldn’t have had to shell out so much money. But they didn’t. And that’s why if you believe you are the victim of a bad faith insurance claim, make sure you fight back so you can receive your deserved compensation.