​Insurance Bad Faith

When you purchase insurance, whether for a home, car or other needs, you do so with a strong measure of trust.  You trust that if a crisis happens, the insurance company will help you cover the financial losses. However, insurance companies betray that trust when they fail to meet the obligations set forth in the insurance contract.  When that happens, you need an attorney who is experienced in insurance law to fight to make sure the insurance company lives up to its obligations.

In order to have a valid legal claim that your insurance company is acting in an unfair manner or in bad faith, the issue must be solely between you and your own insurance company.  Examples of this would be a claim for personal injury protection benefits or uninsured motorist benefits under your automobile policy or a fire claim under your homeowner’s insurance.

In the State of Washington, the Insurance Fair Conduct Act provides that an insurance company may not unreasonably deny a claim for coverage or payment of benefits to its policyholder.  An insurance company that engages in unfair conduct can be forced to pay significant damages to its policyholder over and above the amount of the original claim.  While this may sound relatively simple, the reality is that insurance companies have skilled lawyers developing contract language to protect them from responsibility for these unfair practices.  The average person purchasing insurance often misunderstands key terms of the insurance policy because he or she does not have the necessary background to understand the policy language.  The insurance companies take advantage of this to avoid paying insurance claims.

When insurance contracts are debated in court, the legal interpretation of insurance policy language is a complex issue.  As a result, the assistance of a qualified attorney is vital when making a claim that an insurance company has acted unfairly.   Mike Fisher successfully prosecuted the case of McCallum v. Allstate, a bad faith action against Allstate Insurance Company alleging violations of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) based on Allstate’s handling of her uninsured motorist claim.  During the course of the lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel production of certain claims handling documents that Allstate wanted to keep secret.   These documents set out Allstate's unfair strategy to artificially reduce claims payments to its customers.  Allstate filed a motion for a protective order to prevent the plaintiff from disclosing the documents.  The trial judge initially granted a conditional protective order but later vacated the protective order.  Allstate then requested review by the Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals held that: (1) Allstate failed to show that its claim manuals, claim bulletins, and training manual were trade secrets subject to protective sealing by the court; and (2) the trial court’s decision to vacate the protective order was justified.

Attorney Mike Fisher has the experience and skill to prepare effective legal arguments to help you recover insurance benefits that you are rightfully entitled to under the terms of your insurance policy.  Your insurance company has an internal legal department as well as private law firms working hard to protect its interests.  You deserve the same protection.