Insurance Bad Faith & Property Damage Claims
Laws are constantly evolving, so at SVHC we make it a point to keep up with these changes to ensure that quality services are provided to our clients. One way that some of our experienced property casualty attorneys are doing this is by attending CLE (Continued Legal Education) programs. There presenters discuss new developments in insurance laws and how insurers can avoid bad faith.
There are two Louisiana Revised Statutes which focus on bad faith as it pertains to insurance companies when handling property damage claims. (La RS 22:1892 and LA RS 22:1973). One of the practice areas of our Firm is property casualty on the Plaintiffs side. Therefore, it is vital that an experienced property casualty attorney knows how insurance defense firms interpret these claims and what they instruct their clients, insurance companies, to do and what not to do. Essentially, this program allowed our property casualty department to see the cases from a different perspective.
This information is incredibly relevant for plaintiffs who have suffered property damages because of natural disaster or mere accident. If an insurance company acts in bad faith, the plaintiffs can greatly increase their damages the compensation provided to the victim of property damage.
It is important to recognize the signs when an insurance company may be acting in bad faith. While you may be able to do this on your own, it helps to have someone experienced in insurance claims guiding you as soon as possible.
One speaker indicated that it is important for insurance adjusters to keep incredibly detailed files showing exactly what was said to the insured and when. That way, they can easily retrace their steps should the claim move to litigation. This is highly applicable to our Firm’s area of practice in bad faith insurance.
There have been many instances where our attorneys have been hired to assist with claims that have surpassed a year, and it’s difficult to assure that we have all the information in a timely manner when this happens. When the adjusters assigned to the file keep detailed notes and send correspondence documenting at the same time, it is easier for an attorney to review all letters and documents sent to the insured and quickly understand the status of the claim.
Another interesting topic discussed during the CLE was the concept of a “demand” for Proof of Loss documents. After a client suffers property damage, it is typical for an insurance policy to require the insured to send a Proof of Loss document. This document details what items of property were damaged, destroyed, and/or stolen because of the loss. A typical Proof of Loss document requires the insured to name the item, provide its age, provide the amount the insured paid for the item, and the cost of replacement. However, insurance policies vary in language as it pertains to Proof of Loss documents.
Some policies only require the insured to send the information after a certain number of days following the loss, placing an affirmative duty on the insured. Other policies say that a Proof of Loss must be sent only after the insurance company demand its production. During this CLE there was also discussions on how LA RS 22:1892, one of the bad faith statutes, specifically uses the demand-focused language which is particularly important when evaluating the possible bad faith on the behalf of the insurance company.