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How do you know if your insurer acted in bad faith?

You've paid your insurance premiums on time for years. Then when you finally needed to file a claim -- whether for a car crash, an overflowing bathtub that damaged your flooring or an emergency medical procedure -- the insurance company denied your claim. You believe that the denial was unfair, but how do you show in court that the insurance company was acting in "bad faith?"

Insurance companies are obligated to process, investigate and, if appropriate, pay claims within a reasonable period. If they don't pay a claim, their decision must be based on reasonable, objective considerations.

Bad faith lawsuits don't have to involve a complete denial of a claim that's legitimate. A policyholder may also be able to take action if an insurance company paid less than it should have on a claim or if it spent an unreasonable amount of time processing a claim.

To prove that an insurance company acted in bad faith in denying benefits, a plaintiff generally has to prove at least two things:

  1. The insurer withheld benefits that the policyholder was due under the terms of their policy.
  2. The insurer didn't act reasonably in denying the benefits.

Unless you're in the insurance industry, you're at a disadvantage in recognizing whether you were the victim of an insurance company that didn't fulfill its obligation to handle your claim in good faith. That's why it's wise to consult with an attorney with experience in dealing with these cases here in Kentucky and knows our state laws on the matter if you believe that you may have a case. You may have legal recourse against the insurance company.

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