Insurance Disputes/Bad Faith
Insurance is a mainstay of all of our lives. We are required by law and financial common sense to carry all types of insurance: auto, home, health, professional, watercraft, etc. Insurance matters are always intertwined in the cases we have pledged to help our clients. As a result, Paoli & Leisher is well-versed and trained to undertake all insurance situations. Often the people and companies who injure our clients are insured. In other cases our client has underinsured motorist (UIM) or uninsured motorist (UM) insurance coverage. Many times the insurance company delays or stonewalls our client’s claim.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners estimates property and liability insurance companies collect over $500 billion per year in premiums. They have some of the largest and most sophisticated databases in the world. They return a profit by controlling their claims costs, which means paying you the lowest possible amount or defeating you altogether. They do this by attacking the seriousness of your injury, or by claiming something other than their insured caused your injury, or by claiming their insurance policy doesn’t actually cover your injury.
Types of Insurance
When you suffer personal injury or physical damage to your property, several types of insurance may come into play: liability insurance, medical payments (“med pay”) insurance, property insurance, uninsured motorist insurance, underinsured motorist insurance, and comprehensive general liability insurance. Often these types of insurance require “coordination” with other insurance policies that may cover the injury or damage. This is a polite way of saying all the insurance companies stand around claiming they don’t have to pay until some other insurance has been exhausted. This can leave you feeling outmanned, outgunned and overwhelmed.
Like most states, Montana imposes statutory limits on insurance companies’ ability to bully you. Under Montana law, an insurance company cannot
- misrepresent pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions relating to coverages at issue
- refuse to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation based upon all available information
- fail to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss statements have been completed
- neglect to attempt in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear
- attempt to settle claims on the basis of an application which was altered without notice to or knowledge or consent of the insured
- fail to promptly settle claims, if liability has become reasonably clear, under one portion of the insurance policy coverage in order to influence settlements under other portions of the insurance policy coverage.
You have other important rights under Montana court decisions. If the language of the policy is unclear, it will be interpreted as an “ordinary consumer of insurance” like you would understand it, not necessarily the way the company and its adjusters want it interpreted. If the person who injured you is clearly at fault, their insurance may have to “advance pay” your medical expenses and wages you lose while recovering from the injury, without making you wait until your entire case is ready to settle or go to trial. Other rules established by Montana court decisions give you important rights if your own medical insurance seeks reimbursement when you settle or win your claim against the person who injured you.
If you have to make a claim against your own insurance or someone else’s, you will need attorneys with experience in analyzing the meaning of insurance contract language and knowledge of the law that in many situations requires the policy language to be interpreted in favor of policy holders like you. David Paoli has been fighting insurance companies for decades. This broad base of experience gives our firm the edge you need to level the playing field.