If you have an insurance policy, you have important legal rights that protect you. Those rights may exist under the terms of your policy, or they may exist under Massachusetts’ or Rhode Island’s laws that prohibit bad-faith denials and other unfair insurance practices.
Unfortunately, while your rights as a policyholder are clear, this doesn’t stop many insurance companies from doing things that they shouldn’t. Insurance companies are large, powerful corporations, and maximizing their profits is always their top priority. Maximizing profits means minimizing payouts to policyholders, and too often this prioritization leads to unreasonable delays and wrongful denials of claims.
We Help You Fight Back Against the Insurance Companies
At Bottaro Law Firm, we help individuals take on the insurance companies. If you believe that you may have had a claim wrongfully denied or that your insurance company is not treating you fairly, we have the reputation, knowledge, and experience necessary to enforce your rights. Too often, people frustrated with the process simply give up. This is a mistake that can have significant long-term repercussions. Our team will handle all aspects of your claim on your behalf, and attorney Mike Bottaro will make sure that the insurance companies don’t take advantage of you.
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What is Insurance Bad Faith?
An insurance policy is a contract. You uphold your end of the contract by paying your premiums on time, and your insurance company is supposed to uphold its end by processing claims in good faith and in accordance with the terms of your policy. When an insurance company acts in bad faith to delay or deny a valid claim, it can (and should) be taken to task. Unfortunately, insurance companies so frequently and egregiously mistreat their customers that an entire body of law has developed around the issue, and this has come to be known as “insurance bad faith.”
Insurance bad faith can take many forms. Some of the more common examples include:
- Attempting to settle for substantially less than the amount to which you are entitled under your policy (commonly referred to as “low-balling”)
- Delaying, discounting, or denying a claim without a reasonable basis for doing so
- Failing to acknowledge or respond to a claim for coverage
- Failing to conduct an appropriate investigation
- Failing to conduct a prompt, reasonable, and thorough appraisal
- Failing to deny or pay a claim within a reasonable period of time
- Misrepresenting the terms of your policy
- Refusing to disclose pertinent information
- Requiring you to jump through hoops not required by your policy
- Using harassment, intimidation, or other improper means in order to try to prevent you from pursuing a valid claim
Insurance companies use bad-faith practices with respect to all different type of personal and business insurance policies. At Bottaro Law Firm, we handle claims involving auto, home, fire, commercial general liability, errors and omissions, and a wide variety of other types of policies.
You can read more about the insurance companies’ improper tactics in our free publication, Insurance’s 5 Best Kept Secrets.
What Should You Do if Your Insurance Company is Acting in Bad Faith?
If your insurance company is engaging in any of the bad-faith practices listed above, or if you otherwise feel that your insurer is handling your claim in bad faith, then there are steps that you can take to protect your rights. To enforce the terms of your policy, you should:
- Avoid giving recorded statements to your insurer. Insurance companies will often try to use their policyholders’ own words against them, and adjusters are trained to solicit statements that can harm policyholders’ claims for compensation.
- Continue to pay your premiums. While it may be tempting to retaliate by stopping payment on your premiums, you do not want to give your insurance company any reason to try to justify continuing to deny your claim.
- Never give up. This is what the insurance company wants, and if you give up, then you will be giving in to your insurer’s bad-faith practices.
- Hire an experienced attorney. The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to hire an experienced attorney who can handle your insurance dispute for you and, if necessary, go to court to enforce your rights.
Reasons to Choose Bottaro Law for your Insurance Dispute Case
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Contact Bottaro Law Firm About Your Insurance Dispute
If you are struggling to secure compensation from your insurance company, the experienced legal team at Bottaro Law Firm can help. We offer free consultations, and our “No Fee Guarantee” means that you won’t pay anything unless we make a successful recovery on your claim. To learn more about how we can fight your bad-faith insurance denial, call (401) 777-7777 or submit our online consultation form now.
Insurance Dispute FAQs
Attorney Mike Bottaro Answers Your Questions about Protecting Your Rights Against the Insurance Companies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
1. Do insurance companies really try to “lowball” accident victims?
Yes. In fact, they do it all the time. When you file an insurance claim, whether following a vehicle collision, a damaging storm, or another occurrence that causes you harm or damages your property, you need to accept that the insurance companies are not on your side.
Insurance companies only pay claims when they have a contractual obligation to do so. Your insurance policy is a contract, and it outlines specific conditions that must be met in order for your insurer to compensate a claim. Unfortunately, this is not as straightforward as it sounds, and insurance companies regularly both: (i) deny valid claims, and (ii) offer minimal compensation when far greater compensation is owed under the terms of a policy.
2. Can I file a bad-faith claim against my own insurance company?
Yes, if your insurance company has engaged in any of the practices we outlined above, you can absolutely file a claim for insurance bad faith. At The Bottaro Law Firm, we frequently represent clients throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island in these types of “first-party” insurance disputes.
3. Can I file a bad-faith claim against someone else’s insurance company?
Yes. Say, for example, someone hits you on the highway. Assuming that person has auto insurance, you will most likely file a claim against his or her insurance company. If that insurance company fails to process your claim in good faith, you will most likely need to file a “third-party” bad-faith claim in order to protect your rights.
4. What are some common signs of insurance bad faith?
There are a number of different signs of insurance bad faith, but perhaps one of the most common is…nothing. The insurance company doesn’t send an appraiser. The adjuster assigned to your claim doesn’t answer or return your calls. You wait, and wait, and wait, and nothing happens with your claim.
Some other common signs are along the lines of the examples we outlined above. If an insurance company’s settlement offer seems unreasonably low, if you can’t get an explanation as to why such a low amount is being offered, or if you are pretty sure that your policy says something different than what your insurance company is telling you, these can all be signs of insurance bad faith.
5. Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer to deal with my insurance company?
If an insurance company isn’t treating you fairly, you are going to need help protecting your legal rights. So, who should you choose? While a personal injury lawyer may not seem like the most obvious answer, there are a number of reasons why a local personal injury attorney will typically be your best choice for standing up to the insurance companies (and, if necessary, taking them to court).
For one, personal injury attorneys deal with insurance companies all the time. Most accident claims are resolved through insurance settlements, and personal injury attorneys know not only (i) how to negotiate with the insurance companies effectively, but also (ii) how to distinguish between good-faith and bad-faith delays and denials. For another, good personal injury attorneys are aggressive litigators, and they will not hesitate to vigorously pursue your claim and take your case to trial.
6. What can I expect to get out of my insurance dispute?
When you file a claim for insurance bad faith, first and foremost, you can expect to have your insurance company handle your claim appropriately. Whether it does so voluntarily or by court order, ultimately, the insurance company will need to comply with the law.
However, you may also be entitled to compensation above and beyond the original value of your claim. In both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the law provides for additional remedies, which may include attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.
7. How do I know when it’s time to file a bad-faith claim against an insurance company?
This question isn’t easy to answer. As someone who has been injured or suffered property losses, it can be difficult to tell whether what you are experiencing is “just part of the process,” or truly rises to the level of insurance bad faith. However, as a general rule, if you think something is wrong, it probably is. To find out if it is time to file a claim, the best thing you can do is speak with an experienced attorney.