Insurance Claims & Bad Faith
People take out insurance policies to protect themselves if something goes wrong. This includes life, fire, flood, health, disability, indemnity, and most other types of liability insurance. They expect that, if something does indeed happen, their insurance policy will compensate them for the losses. However, insurance companies sometimes wrongfully deny claims, delay paying claims, or pay less than what they should under the policy. These actions are illegal in both Missouri and Illinois. First, your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurer. This means you can sue your insurer for breach of contract and for violating the fiduciary duty owed to you.
Second, states have enacted statutes to prevent insurance companies from mistreating its policyholders. In Missouri, wrongful denial of insurance claims is called vexatious refusal. You, as the insured filing the lawsuit, have the burden to prove that the insurance company has wrongfully refused your claim or delayed payment. These cases can be complex and require that you prove several elements, including that a reasonable person would view the denial as willful and without reasonable cause. In certain situations, Missouri law also allows you to recover additional damages and attorney's fees. Illinois law (215 ILCS 5/155) provides a cause of action for breach of insurance contact where the refusal or delay is vexatious and unreasonable failure. It allows recovery for various types of damages and attorney's fees.
Even if you cash the inadequate check your insurer gave you, you can still recover if the insurer has underpaid the claim. Many times, we are able to re-open the case and prove that the check you received was inadequate as compared to the damages and losses you sustained.
Many clients wonder if they need an attorney to file a claim with their insurance company after an accident or incident has occurred. People file claims with their insurance companies every day and have no problems. However, if you have suffered damage or injury that was due to a major disaster such as, a flood, fire, serious accident, or burglary, the language in your policy may be unclear as to what is covered, and you may find it difficult to deal with your insurer on a level playing field. The language in insurance policies is also often confusing and difficult for a layperson to decipher. The experienced insurance claims attorneys at Cervantes & Associates can evaluate your damage, analyze your policy and calculate what should be covered, and represent you in front of your insurer to protect your rights under the policy.
The attorneys at Cervantes & Associates have extensive experience assisting clients who believe they have wrongfully been denied, or underpaid, on their insurance claims. If you believe you are owed money under an insurance policy, it can be difficult and intimidating to go up against insurance companies alone. Contact us today for a free initial consultation regarding your case.