Bad Faith and Insurance Claims

Florida is a state prone to hurricane damage on a yearly basis because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Ocean, along with the hurricanes and tropical storms that regularly form in these bodies of water. Because of this, Florida has some of the highest insurance claims in the country.When a person insures their home and other personal property, they tend to assume that since they have paid faithfully, their insurance claim will be honored without any problems. However, some insurance companies do not always act in good faith and will make an already stressful situation more complicated by unfair insurance practices.What is Bad Faith?After filing your Florida insurance claim, your insurer may tell you that your policy is ambiguous or open to having several possible meanings, or that the policy does not cover the type of property for which you are filing a claim. Another reason your claim may be denied is because the insurance company may claim that the property was not damaged, the damage resulted from the negligence of the owner or the damage resulted from another reason not covered by the insurance policy.Insurance companies are required to act in good faith and in a timely manner during this process. Unfortunately, at times, an insurer will delay the payment or resolution of a claim or even violate Florida state laws. When this happens they are acting in bad faith.Some types of bad faith an insurer might engage in can include unfair settlement claim practices or a refusal to insure for discriminatory reasons.Unfair claim settlement practices can mean that an insurance company is:•Failing to adopt or implement standards for the proper investigation of claims,
•Misrepresenting facts or insurance policy provisions,
•Denying claims without conducting a reasonable investigation,
•Failing to properly explain policy information, or
•Failing to pay any undisputed amounts of full or partial benefits in a prompt or timely manner.It is illegal for an insurer to refuse to insure and individual based on their race, color, creed, marital status, sex or nationality. Additionally, an insurer cannot deny an individual based on where they live, their age or where they work.There are several laws within the Florida Revised Statutes that relate to bad faith insurance claims and illegal business practices.The main statutes regarding bad faith include:Florida Statute § 626.9541(1)(i) – Engaging in unfair claim settlement practices;Fla. Stat. § 626.9541(1)(o) – Illegal dealings in premiums;Fla. Stat. § 626.9541(1)(x) – Refusal to insure for discriminatory reasons;Fla. Stat. § 626.9551 – Requirements to have a certain agent or insurer not permitted;Fla. Stat. § 627.7283 – Return of premium for cancelled insurance policies required.What should you do if your insurance company denies your claim?If you believe that your insurance company is acting in bad faith in regards to an insurance policy claim, the first step many take is contacting a knowledgeable insurance attorney. An insurance attorney can help you decide the proper steps to take when dealing with an insurance company acting in bad faith.Your insurance attorney may suggest that you file a civil suit against your insurer for damages. When you file a suit for damages you may be able to receive the full benefits of your policy, court costs and attorney fees.With capable legal counsel and a firm understanding of how your insurance company is required, by law, to act, the property damage claims process in Florida will be much easier to handle, increasing your chances of a favorable and fair outcome.

5 Factors to Consider When Buying Life Insurance

Life insurance is an important part of financial planning, but understanding insurance and purchasing the right product can be confusing. While you should rely on the expertise and recommendations of your insurance agent, it’s always a good idea to do your own research. Here are five factors to consider before you buy insurance:1. Why you need life insurance. We all want to plan for our family’s future and financial security. Part of this process includes ensuring that our loved ones are supported in the event of our death, a spouse’s death, or the death of a parent. Insurance can provide protection in many different ways, such as helping to fund your retirement or paying for mortgages and college educations. It is also a key component of estate planning.2. The amount of life insurance you need. There are many factors to consider when deciding how much insurance is right for you and your family, and they may change as you age. It’s important to understand the purpose, policies, premiums, benefits and, ultimately, the best insurance for your specific situation. Here are a few considerations when determining how much insurance is enough:*How much money your family will need to live comfortably if you pass away
*Whether your home is paid for or if you still have a mortgage
*If you have a business, how your passing will financially impact the company
*Whether your family has access to money to pay for your burial expenses
*The cost of financial and legal assistance to manage your estate
*Whether your passing will create an estate tax burden for your heirs3. The different types of insurance available. Once you decide how much insurance you need, the next step is deciding whether term insurance or whole life insurance is right for you. Here are the basics:*Term life insurance: As its name implies, term life provides protection for a specific period of years. If you pass away during this period, your beneficiaries are paid the value of your policy. Term life insurance is the most popular for a variety of reasons, including the fact that benefits can be used to pay off outstanding debts such as mortgages in the event of a premature death, and that premiums are generally inexpensive when you purchase it at an earlier age. Someone in their 20s, for instance, will pay far less than someone in their 80s for the same amount of insurance.*Whole life insurance: A whole life insurance policy remains in effect throughout your lifetime as long as you continue to pay the premiums. You can typically use whole life insurance policies as collateral for loans or even receive cash payments while you are still living. However, premiums for whole insurance are more costly than term insurance, so younger families are generally encouraged to buy term life, with the option of converting the term life policy to a whole life policy at a later date.*Universal Life: A universal life insurance policy also provides permanent life insurance protection, but differs from whole life in its flexibility that allows you to select the amount of protection that best fits you, your family, and/or your business. You can increase or decrease coverage as your insurance needs change, as well as control the frequency and amount of premium payments.4. Risks that impact insurance costs. Insurance premiums are based on many different risk factors, including age, overall health, and the use of tobacco. If you are still relatively young, are in good health, and don’t smoke, now’s the time to buy insurance!5. How to choose the right insurance agent. With so many variables, choosing the right amount and type of insurance should be discussed with a trusted independent insurance agent. Independent brokers have access to many more insurance products and are typically more invested in your financial future. Be sure to do your homework, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and know your policy inside and out before you sign on the dotted line.If you’re shopping for life insurance and want to learn more about the right type of policy for you and your family, visit http://www.KellyWilliamsIns.com or call 562.498.8661.