A recent analysis by the Insurance Research Council reveals Florida is No. 3 in the nation when it comes to bad faith insurance lawsuits for claims of bodily injury liability in car accidents, at an additional claim cost of some $7.6 billion in the last dozen years.
What is bad faith insurance? Let’s start with the fact that the majority of Floridians are covered by some type of insurance, whether it’s auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance, boater’s insurance, flood insurance, commercial liability insurance or life insurance. When you obtain an insurance policy, you enter into a contract with an insurer. You agree to abide the terms of that policy – pay the premium each month on time, etc. – while the insurer agrees to cover the losses or damages – up to a certain amount – resulting from circumstances as outlined your policy.
Insurers act in bad faith when they try to walk back on their obligations to you, sometimes by refusing to pay a legitimate claim or even agreeing to investigate it. Other times, they will take an unreasonable amount of time to process a claim or offer you far less than they claim is worth, knowing full well you should be paid more. It goes beyond simply a disagreement with an adjuster or even an honest mistake. Florida takes bad faith insurance very seriously, and per F.S. 624.155, an insurer found to have engaged in bad faith can be compelled to pay not just compensatory damages (to make up for your losses) but also punitive damages – up to triple the amount you were originally owed.