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Your rights when the insurance company tries to push you around

For people who get hurt unexpectedly or who suffer massive property damage, insurance may be the only thing standing between them and financial catastrophe.

Whether you need medical coverage for a brain injury your spouse suffered after a slip-and-fall accident at a grocery store or need appropriate compensation to repair your vehicle after a crash, trying to get what you need from an insurance company can be difficult.

Delayed claims due to endless paperwork, low settlements and even outright denials for costs that should have coverage can put your family in a desperate position. You need to understand your rights if an insurance company won’t offer you appropriate compensation on a reasonable claim.

Insurance companies are bound by law and contract

Both state and federal laws govern the insurance industry. For-profit insurance businesses often want to keep their costs low, sometimes by denying claims that are valid, so the law protects consumers by creating legal obligations for insurers.

Both policyholders in need of coverage that they have long paid a premium for and those hurt by someone or on someone’s property should be able to depend on insurance companies to cover their insured losses as outlined in their policy documents.

Coverage up to the maximum amount of the policy’s value should be available if necessary, and the insurance company should pay on claims quickly so that people don’t experience financial hardship.

 There are consequences for insurance companies that don’t follow the rules

When insurance companies don’t pay valid claims, delay paying out after approving a claim or offer inappropriate settlement amounts, policyholders and claimants are the ones who suffer. If you have struggled to deal with an insurance company that seems intent on avoiding payments, you may need to bring a bad faith insurance claim against the company.

In such legal proceedings, you can potentially get the courts to order the insurance company to pay your claim. They may also award you punitive damages as a way to punish the insurance company for failing to uphold their obligation to you. In addition to covering the costs of the claim, the courts could give more to compensate you for the stress you suffered due to bad faith insurance practices.