Bellevue Insurance Bad Faith Attorney
Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer in Bellevue for Insurance Bad Faith Victims
Auto Insurers owe their insureds a duty of good faith and fair dealing. A violation of this duty can result in the award of treble damages, attorneys fees, and costs. If you have any legal related questions related to insurance bad faith, please feel free to reach out to Charles McNeese and Adam Trotsky for a free phone, video, or in-person consultation. We look forward to answering any of your questions.
Insurance Carriers in Washington have a quasi-fiduciary duty to not put its financial interests ahead of their insured. Some of these duties have been codified in the Washington Administrative Code and the Revised Code of Washington. Specifically, WAC 284-30-330 (Specific unfair claims settlement practices defined), which states it is a violation of RCW 48.30.010. The following are
hereby defined as unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices of the insurer in the business of insurance, specifically applicable to the settlement of claims:
(1) Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions.
(2) Failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communications with respect to claims arising under insurance policies.
(3) Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims arising under insurance policies.
(4) Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation.
(5) Failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after fully completed proof of loss documentation has been submitted.
(6) Not attempting in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear. In particular, this includes an obligation to promptly pay property damage claims to innocent third parties in clear
liability situations. If two or more insurers share liability, they should arrange to make appropriate payment, leaving to themselves the burden of apportioning liability.
(7) Compelling a first party claimant to initiate or submit to litigation, arbitration, or appraisal to recover amounts due under an insurance policy by offering substantially less than the amounts ultimately recovered in such actions or proceedings.
(8) Attempting to settle a claim for less than the amount to which a reasonable person would have believed he or she was entitled by reference to written or printed advertising material accompanying or made part of an application.
(9) Making a claim payment to a first party claimant or beneficiary not accompanied by a statement setting forth the coverage under which the payment is made.
(10) Asserting to a first party claimant a policy of appealing arbitration awards in favor of insured’s or first party claimants for the purpose of compelling them to accept settlements or compromises less than the amount awarded in arbitration.
(11) Delaying the investigation or payment of claims by requiring a first party claimant or his or her physician to submit a preliminary claim report and then requiring subsequent submissions which contain substantially the same information.
(12) Failing to promptly settle claims, where liability has become reasonably clear, under one portion of the insurance policy coverage in order to influence settlements under other portions of the insurance policy coverage.
(13) Failing to promptly provide a reasonable explanation of the basis in the insurance policy in relation to the facts or applicable law for denial of a claim or for the offer of a compromise settlement.
(14) Unfairly discriminating against claimants because they are represented by a public adjuster.
(15) Failing to expeditiously honor drafts given in settlement of claims. A failure to honor a draft within three working days after notice of receipt by the payor bank will constitute a violation of this provision. Dishonor of a draft for valid reasons related to the settlement of the claim will not constitute a violation of this provision.
(16) Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the processing and payment of claims after the obligation to pay has been established. Except as to those instances where the time for payment is governed by statute or rule or is set forth in an applicable contract, procedures which are not designed to deliver a check or draft to the payee in payment of a settled claim within fifteen business days after receipt by the insurer or its attorney of properly executed releases or other settlement documents are not acceptable. Where the insurer is obligated to furnish an appropriate release or settlement document to a claimant, it must do so within twenty working days after a settlement has been reached.
(17) Delaying appraisals or adding to their cost under insurance policy appraisal provisions through the use of appraisers from outside of the loss area. The use of appraisers from outside the loss area is appropriate only where the unique nature of the loss or a lack of competent local appraisers make the use of out-of-area appraisers necessary.
(18) Failing to make a good faith effort to settle a claim before exercising a contract right to an appraisal.
(19) Negotiating or settling a claim directly with any claimant known to be represented by an attorney without the attorney’s knowledge and consent. This does not prohibit routine inquiries to a first party claimant to identify the claimant or to obtain details concerning the claim.
Additionally, RCW 48.30.010, states that certain actions or inactions taken by an Insurance Company in regards to a
claim made by its own insured are unfair and subject to punishment of:
(1) the payment of actual damages, not limited by the policy’s monetary limits,
(2) treble damages, and
(3) attorney’s fees and costs.
Additionally, RCW 48.30.010 states that (1) No person engaged in the business of insurance shall engage in unfair methods of competition or in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of such business as such methods, acts, or practices are defined pursuant to subsection (2) of this section…(7) An insurer engaged in the business of insurance may not unreasonably deny a claim for coverage or payment of benefits to any first party claimant. “First party claimant” has the same meaning as in RCW 48.30.015. AND RCW 48.30.015 (Unreasonable denial of a claim for coverage or payment of benefits) states:
(1) Any first party claimant to a policy of insurance who is unreasonably denied a claim for coverage or payment of benefits by an insurer may bring an action in the superior court of this state to recover the actual damages sustained, together with the costs of the action, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, as set forth in subsection (3) of this section.
(2) The superior court may, after finding that an insurer has acted unreasonably in denying a claim for coverage or payment of benefits or has violated a rule in subsection (5) of this section, increase the total award of damages to an amount not to exceed three times the actual damages.
(3) The superior court shall, after a finding of unreasonable denial of a claim for coverage or payment of benefits, or after a finding of a violation of a rule in subsection (5) of this section, award reasonable attorneys’ fees and actual and statutory litigation costs, including expert witness fees, to the first party claimant of an insurance contract who is the prevailing party in such an action.
(4) “First party claimant” means an individual, corporation, association, partnership, or other legal entity asserting a right to payment as a covered person under an insurance policy or insurance contract arising out of the occurrence of the contingency or loss covered by such a policy or contract.
(5) A violation of any of the following is a violation for the purposes of subsections (2) and (3) of this section:
(a) WAC 284-30-330, captioned “specific unfair claims settlement
(b) WAC 284-30-350, captioned “misrepresentation of policy provisions”;
(c) WAC 284-30-360, captioned “failure to acknowledge pertinent communications”;
(d) WAC 284-30-370, captioned “standards for prompt investigation of claims”;
(e) WAC 284-30-380, captioned “standards for prompt, fair and equitable settlements applicable to all insurers”; or
(f) An unfair claims settlement practice rule adopted under RCW 48.30.010 by the insurance commissioner intending to implement this section. The rule must be codified in chapter 284-30 of the Washington Administrative Code.
(6) This section does not limit a court’s existing ability to make any other determination regarding an action for an unfair or deceptive practice of an insurer or provide for any other remedy that is available at law.
(7) This section does not apply to a health plan offered by a health carrier. “Health plan” has the same meaning as in RCW 48.43.005. “Health carrier” has the same meaning as in RCW 48.43.005.
(8) (a) Twenty days prior to filing an action based on this section, a first party claimant must provide written notice of the basis for the cause of action to the insurer and office of the insurance commissioner. Notice may be provided by regular mail, registered mail, or certified mail with return receipt requested. Proof of notice by mail may be made in the same manner as prescribed by court rule or statute for proof of service by mail. The insurer and insurance commissioner are deemed to have received notice three business days after the notice is mailed.
(b) If the insurer fails to resolve the basis for the action within the twenty-day period after the written notice by the first party claimant, the first party claimant may bring the action without any further notice.
(c) The first party claimant may bring an action after the required period of time in (a) of this subsection has elapsed.
(d) If a written notice of claim is served under (a) of this subsection within the time prescribed for the filing of an action under this section, the statute of limitations for the action is tolled during the twenty-day period of time in (a) of this subsection.