Insurance Disputes

OKLAHOMA INSURANCE DELAY, DENIAL, UNFAIR SETTLEMENT ATTORNEY

Managing Partner, Dustin Compton has worked on some of the largest insurance lawsuits in the United States.  He has successfully prosecuted and won insurance breach of contract and bard faith cases in excess of one million dollars.  Prior to founding Compton Law he worked with a team of other attorneys on some of the largest nationwide class actions cases in history with many of these cases paying out billions of dollars.  Dustin knows what it takes to win against insurance companies - contact him today for a free case review - we take all insurance bad faith cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we fund and finance the case and only get paid at the end of a successful verdict or settlement.

What is Insurance Bad Faith?

For years you've paid your insurance premium with the anticipation that the Insurnce company will step in and do the right thing when handling and adjusting your claim.  But then, the delays, rush to settle low-ball offers, disputes, and coverage issues arise.  Then, someone informs you that some adjusters might actually get paid or recieve bonuses in relation to the amount of claims they paid (or actually got out of paying).    We know and have learned the inside secrets of many of the largets insurance companies and how they promote a culture to delay, deny, and defend your insurance claim all in the overall scheme to make more company profits - Don't let it happen to you -

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that while the claim of bad faith is an intentional tort, liability is based upon something more than mere negligence, but not something rising to the level of recklessness that would impose punitive damages. Thus, we know the level of conduct that might give rise to a bad faith cause of action, but it takes much more investigation to determine if the specific acts of conduct, taken as a whole, establishes a bad faith claim.

As you could imagine, there is not one specific action that constitutes the ability to sue an insurance company. Generally, the first indication of liability is the sniff test: If it smelled bad, it was probably bad faith.

Most folks in society have an internal compass that guides us as “knowing right from wrong” or “common sense”. These are aspects of an insurance company’s conduct that fall to the level of unreasonableness because they violate the basic human societal compact. For example, You should not lie; thus, it is unreasonable conduct for a claims handler to lie to the insured. Another one might be “The Golden Rule”, i.e. you should treat others as you want to be treated. Thus, in an insurance context, in handling the claim of a first party insured the claims adjuster should treat the insured like he would want to be treated. These are basic foundations that an insurance company must do when handling a claim.

Standards of reasonable insurance company conduct also comes from claims manuals. If the company sets forth its standards and the claims adjuster violates one of them, this can be bad faith. Standards can come from a certain insurance company’s advertising or claims handling mantra. For example, insurance companies say their claim handling philosophy is that “We pay what we owe, nothing more, nothing less.” This is a Rule which, if broken, would be bad faith. Standards come from statutes. They come from the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (“UCSPA”). They come from the language of the insurance contract. They come from industry standards, known by all reasonable insurance company personnel, that become the essence of what a “reasonable” insurance company would do.

My other report concerning the top “The Rules of the Road” was developed by trying to incorporate all of the various places where standards for insurance company conduct derive: case law, “common sense” law, statute, the UCSPA and claims manuals. The Rules are always changing so your unique circumstance might not be addressed.

 

INSURANCE RULES OF THE ROAD

 

 

  1. Insurer must treat its policyholder’s interests with equal regard as it does its own interests.  This is NOT an adversarial or competitive process.

        National Mutual Casualty Co. v. Britt, 200 P.2d 407 (Okla. 1949).

        Newport v. USAA, 11 P.3d 190 (Okla. 2000).

      *The Golden Rule*

 

  1. Insurer should assist the policyholder with the claim.

      Christian v. American Home Assurance Co., 577 P.2d 899 (Okla. 1977).

 

  1. Insurer must disclose to its insured ALL benefits, coverages and time limits that may apply to the claim.

            UCSPA (36 O.S. § 1250.5(1)) 

 

  1. Insurer must conduct a full, fair and prompt investigation of the claim.

            Egan v. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co., 24 Cal.3d 809, 620 P.2d 141 (1979).

                Buzzard v. Farmers Insurance Co. Inc., 824 P.2d 1105 (Okla. 1991).

                Damaj v. Farmers Ins. Co. Inc., 132 F.3d 42 (10th Cir. 1997).

                UCSPA (36 O.S. § 1250.5(3)) 

                UCSPA (36 O.S. § 1250.7(C))

               

  1. Insurer must fully, fairly and promptly evaluate and adjust the claim.

      Buzzard v. Farmers Insurance Co. Inc., 824 P.2d 1105 (Okla. 1991).

        McCorkle v. Great Atlantic Ins. Co., 637 P.2d 583 (Okla. 1981).

        Gary v. American Cas. Co. of Reading, 753 F.Supp 1547 (W.D. Okla. 1990).

                UCSPA (36 O.S. § 1250.5(4))

 

  1. Insurer may not deny a claim or any part of a claim based upon insufficient information, speculation or biased information.

            McCoy v. Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co., 841 P.2d 568 (Okla. 1992).

                Massey v. Farmers Ins. Group, 837 P.2d 880 (Okla. 1992).

 

  1. If there is a full or partial claim denial, the insurer must give a written explanation, pointing to facts and policy provisions supporting the denial.

            UCSPA (36 O.S. § 1250.7(A)) 

 

  1. Insurer may not misrepresent facts or policy provisions.

      Christian v. American Home Assurance Co., 577 P.2d 899 (Okla. 1977).

        UCSPA (36 O.S. § 1250.5(2))

        *The Ten Commandments* 

 

  1. Insurer may not make settlement offers less than the insurer’s evaluation of the claim.

      Newport v. USAA, 11 P.3d 190 (Okla. 2000).

 

If you feel your insurance company is not living up to expectations then contact Compton Law for a free case evaluation.