Bad faith is when the insurance company wrongfully refuses to pay a valid insurance claim. It is not a simple mistake during the claim. It is not a genuine dispute over the coverage or damages.
Bad faith isn’t present just because the claimant wants more money.
The courts in Oklahoma (and courts in other states) have identified misconduct that is bad faith. Although not a complete list, actions declared to be bad faith include:
* lying to the policyholder about the available coverage
* deliberately refusing to pay a valid claim
* not acting promptly in the payment of a claim
* intentionally offering lowball amounts rather than a reasonable figure
* forcing the policyholder to needlessly file a lawsuit
* ignoring established legal precedents of the courts concerning the insurance coverage
* refusing to follow the established insurance laws
* attempting to cheat or defraud the policyholder
* using the desperate circumstances of the policyholder as leverage to pay less than the amount really owed
* unreasonably failing to keep the policyholder informed about the claim
* blindly ignoring the true facts in order to not pay a claim
* fraudulent actions by the company or its adjuster to keep from paying a claim
* committing crimes so as to not pay a legitimate claim
* telling the policyholder the time to file suit has run out when the time has not expired
The list is not exhaustive. However, it is easy to see a pattern of the type of prohibited actions. The courts view wrongful and unreasonable actions as bad faith. The courts do not see an ordinary mistake or simple negligence as bad faith. An insurance company is not required to be perfect. Insurers are required to treat the policyholder reasonably, fairly, and in good faith.
If you have questions about bad faith in Oklahoma, contact us!