Am I Covered? Insurance Companies and Bad Faith Claims

By Richard P. Hastings, Connecticut Attorney

Due to the recent bout of bad weather, we have been contacted by a number of people asking about insurance claims issues. Typically, after getting a brief explanation as to what happened I am asked, "Am I covered?"

Insurance companies' policies are a contract between the insurance company and the insured. So the first thing a policyholder needs to do is to get the correct policy, including all endorsements and forms. You can then determine who is an "insured" , whether the subject event is a "covered peril" and whether or not there are any exclusions which would allow the insurer to deny coverage.

An insured has an obligation to give timely notice of any claim to their insurer. In some cases an insurance company may either deny a claim or provide an insured with a reservation of rights letter, which basically states that if a claim is made by a third party against an insured the carrier in that case is, notifying the insured as to the potential coverage issues.

In all insurance claims cases the insurance company must use good faith and honest judgment or must use that level of care and diligence which a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in the management of his own business. The failure of the insurance company to do so would give rise to a potential claim of bad faith.

A claim of bad faith against an insurance company in dealing with its insured can create a cause of action sounding in both contract and tort law. These claims fall into three general categories:

1) Contract claims based upon a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; 2) Negligence claims; and 3) Statutory claims based upon violations of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act CGS Section 38a-815, and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act CGS Section 42-110a.

If you feel that your insurance company is treating you unfairly you should keep a detailed record of all of your dealings with the carrier including dates, times, who you spoke with and what was said. You can also file a complaint with the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner's office that will investigate your claim.

Lastly, you should contact a lawyer who is conversant in insurance company law to obtain a free consultation to have your rights explained to you. Our team of experienced Connecticut Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to ensuring your rights are protected. Call our team at 888-244-5480 for a free consultation. Additionally, download a free eBook to learn more about what you should be doing, and what you should avoid doing.