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Insurers' bad-faith responses to damage claims; common, national

The problems that insurance policyholders often face when filing property damage claims and hoping to realize prompt and good-faith service from insurers are widely similar across the country.

In other words: Although the details of claims vary widely, the responding tactics frequently engaged in by insurers to stall, inadequately pay or deny payment entirely on legitimate claims are often similar, whether in Minnesota, throughout the Midwest or elsewhere nationally.

A recent media story from Florida well illustrates that fact. Many of the stratagems employed by insurers in that state that are described in the story will readily resonate with our readers in Minnesota and other states. That is, readers virtually anywhere in the country will quickly recognize the spotlighted insurance strategies that result -- at least initially and until a proven and aggressive insurance recovery attorney can intervene -- in delayed or denied claims.

Here’s one bad-faith ploy: Florida’s largest private insurance company has taken an inordinate amount of time to complete its underwriting process after signing up customers and taking their money.

The downside of that, which has materialized for many consumers, is that the insurer has refused to pay a claim if an intervening disaster destroys property prior to final underwriting approval. In many instances, customers expecting to see prompt and responsive action from the insurer following a claim have had their policies canceled instead.

Here’s another ruse, attributed to the same company: The insurer readily took customers’ payments for years, but then refused to pay legitimate claims in some instances because, as noted in the media expose, customers’ applications “failed to mention obscure credit information.”

Such egregious behavior has fueled a demand in that state for enactment of a law that would require insurers to provide policyholders with a succinct and informative one-page explanation of their rights when they file claims.

That is a sad state of affairs, given that policyholders filing bona-fide claims have as a prerequisite to that action made recurring and timely payments to insurers.

Bad-faith tactics employed by insurance companies are, sadly, numerous, recurring and routinely verified across the country.

They don’t have to be tolerated. An experienced coverage dispute attorney can act aggressively on behalf of a claimant and help ensure that a just outcome prevails when a claim is filed.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, "Home insurance rights bill advances, but squabbles to follow," Charles Elmore, April 11, 2014

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