In West Palm Beach and surrounding communities, car accident insurance issues are very common after motor vehicle collisions. Insurance companies routinely try to avoid paying claims to victims of crashes. While insurance companies have experts on staff who work to help save the insurer money by paying the smallest possible amount to crash victims, insurers are bound by some laws that protect consumers.
Insurance Companies Aren't Allowed to Engage in These Behaviors
Insure.com has a list of some of the things insurance companies are not going to be permitted to do. For example:
- Insurers cannot knowingly misrepresent policy provisions or material facts about coverage after a motor vehicle accident. If policy provisions were altered by the insurer without notice or without obtaining consent of the insured, the insurer may be unable to enforce the revised policy provisions.
- Insurers cannot decline to acknowledge your accident claim. Insurers must respond in a timely manner when you report an accident and seek to make a claim for damages.
- Insurers cannot stonewall or refuse to properly process claims. Some insurers drag out the process of "investigating" claims in order to make it more likely a policyholder will become desperate for settlement funds and willing to accept a low settlement offer. To make sure consumers are not put into stressful financial positions, insurers are required to process claims in a reasonably prompt and timely manner.
- Insurers cannot require repetitive or unnecessary forms. Insurers cannot delay investigations or claims payouts by making repeated paperwork requests.
- Insurers cannot appeal lots of claims. Insurers are allowed to appeal, but cannot make it standard business practice to appeal every claim they pay out just to force policyholders and injured victims to take less money than they should be receiving on a claim.
Florida has established these and other limitations on the business practices of insurance companies as part of the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act, which was passed in 1945. Every state has laws protecting the rights of consumers who make insurance claims. Many of the state laws are based on a model act that was developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Victims of unfair business practices by insurance companies are given rights of recourse, including the ability to file a complaint with a state insurance regulator. When regulators in Florida receive many similar complaints about an insurance company, this can trigger a "market-conduct" examination to determine if the insurer is complying with state regulations.
Laws like the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act had to be passed because insurers have a long history of dishonest and unethical business practices. While the laws provide options for consumers if insurers fail to live up to obligations to policyholders, many crash victims are unsure how to assert their rights or what to do if insurance companies do not pay appropriately. An experienced legal professional can help those who face car accident insurance issues to make sure they use the legal tools available to try to get the necessary compensation for losses.