Sacramento Bad Faith Insurance Attorney

When tragedy strikes, the last thing anyone wants to do is haggle with an insurance adjustor over what should have been covered under the terms of their policy. There are medical bills to worry about, family to care for, pieces of life that need to be put back together again.

Insurance bad faith does not only refer to unwarranted denial of an insurance claim. Insurance bad faith may also occur when an insurance company delays or discounts a payment of claim unreasonably, neglects to investigate the claim thoroughly, attempts to diminish a claim, fails to respond to a claimant, or otherwise forces the insurance policy holder to jump through hoops to obtain the full value of the promises made by their policy.

Anyone who’s ever suffered a major catastrophe – a fire, business loss, loss of a family member, or a career ending disability – knows how important insurance is. It can be difficult to pay those insurance premiums month after month, year after year, but we make the sacrifice to honor our policies in order to protect our families against the unexpected.

Your insurance company has a legal obligation to honor its contract, and if they do not, you have the legal right to sue them for bad faith in handling your policy. Important things to note:

  1. An insurance company must promptly investigate and process your claim.
  2. They cannot ignore you or attempt to trip you up with layers of red tape to retrieve the benefits owed to you.
  3. They must pay you the full value of your claim, and not some lesser amount that it thinks it can get away with.

Sacramento Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer

If you are battling with your insurance company, you don’t have to fight alone. Our insurance lawyers have over twenty years of success fighting large insurance companies. We take great pleasure in holding their feet to the fire and using every bit of legal force the law provides to hold them accountable. Often, an insurance bad faith lawsuit can cost the insurance company much more than the insurance claim they wrongfully denied. And sometimes they can be forced to pay punitive damages for their bad faith in handling their insurance policies.

Insurance companies routinely try to drag out the process hoping that you will simply give up or settle for much less than they know they should be forced to pay. This is why it’s important to hire an experienced lawyer who isn’t intimidated by the antics of a large insurance company – Our Sacramento lawyers have a history of successful jury verdicts as well as settlements, and we are prepared to take your case to trial if push comes to shove.

The good news is that the law typically favors the insured. When you’ve held up your end of the contract by paying your insurance premiums month after month, year after year, your insurance company is legally bound to make good on its promises to you.

Insurance Company Responsibilities

  1. Your insurance company must not break its promises to you.
  2. Your insurance company must treat you fairly.
  3. Your insurance company must fully investigate your claim.
  4. Your insurance company cannot hide behind ambiguous or unclear language in its policy.
  5. Your insurance company must pay every claim that is covered by a policy, without delay.
  6. Your insurance company must not make you jump through hoops.
  7. Your insurance company must not disrespect you.
  8. Your insurance company must not misrepresent facts relating to your claim, or the meaning of policy provisions.
  9. Your insurance company must not ignore your claim and must promptly communicate with you.
  10. Your insurance company must tell you all of the reasons in writing why it has denied your claim.
  11. Your insurance company must pay you the full value of your claim, and not some lesser amount that it can get away with.
  12. Your insurance company must not force you to file a lawsuit rather than paying your legitimate, valid claim.
  13. Your insurance company must not mislead you. Your insurance company must not unfairly cancel your policy or refuse to renew it.
  14. Your insurance company must view what is in your best interest at least as highly as it views what is in its own best interest.

We have obtained substantial verdicts and settlements for these and countless other clients:

  • Substantial insurance bad faith recover arising out of a fire loss, allowing the family to rebuild their home and to pay for their personal belongings that were destroyed in the fire.
  • Recovery of disability benefits for an OBGYN who became disabled late in his career after the insurance carrier initially denied his claim due to his loss of staff privileges at his local hospital.
  • Confidential settlement for an invasive cardiologist in a claim for disability after the insurance carrier denied his claim on the basis that he could still practice as a cardiologist.
  • Substantial recovery for an orthopedic surgeon who filed a claim many years late, even though the doctor was able to perform his occupation full time as a non-operative orthopedist.

Disability Insurance Claim

Disability Insurance Companies make a lot of money selling policies that many of them do not honor. These companies are responsible for investigating every claim thoroughly and promptly. They must be forthright about what the policies contain, and they must pay every legitimate claim in a timely fashion.

Countless insurance companies do not stand behind the policies they sell – and worse, they put up a tough fight against anyone who challenges their lack of integrity. Insurance Companies have the resources to protect themselves and they often appeal verdicts made against them.

Six-figure Disability Insurance Bad Faith Claim

6-figure recovery for an OBGYN who became disabled late in his career. The doctor’s disability insurance carrier initially denied his claim due to his loss of staff privileges at his local hospital. By the end of the case, Eric successfully obtained benefits of the policy for the disabled doctor.

Cardiologist Disability Insurance Claim

Eric successfully represented an invasive cardiologist in a claim for disability after the insurance carrier denied his claim on the basis that he could still practice as a cardiologist. The case resolved for a large confidential amount.

Success for Orthopedic Surgeon Filing Late Disability Insurance Claim

Eric Ratinoff successfully resurrected the disability claim of an orthopedic surgeon who filed many years late. Even though the doctor was able to perform his occupation full time as a non-operative orthopedist, Eric was able to recover substantial benefits owed.

Property & Casualty Insurance

Each of us insures our homes, businesses and personal belongings because we recognize that there is a risk that we can lose these things through calamity. Insurance companies know our fears, and they seek us out to pay large premiums for their promise to provide protection against fire, water damage, building negligence, and other damaging events.

We all pay a lot of money for that promise of protection. Every insurance company should stand by the promises that it makes. Most do not, because there is profit in collecting premiums and then denying claims.

Anyone whose business has burned down should be able to rely on the insurance policy for which they’ve paid years of premiums so that they can rebuild and return to work.  Anyone who has lost their home to fire or water damage knows that the last thing they want to face is an uncooperative and unhelpful insurance company.

If you have filed an insurance claim because of a fire, water damage, a contractor’s negligence, or other calamity, you need a lawyer with a proven track record for fighting insurance companies and for making them pay claims.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a product that we buy in order to fulfill the promise we make to take care of our family – wives, husbands, children, and others who depend on us. Because we are responsible, we make the sacrifice to pay insurance premiums, often for many years, so that our families will have some financial security when we die.

Life insurance companies make monumental efforts to sell as much life insurance in as many different ways as possible. They advertise on TV, in the magazines we read, in newspapers, on the internet, on billboards, buildings, and on the benches of the bus stops that line our streets. They sell a lot of insurance to a lot of people and make vast sums of money doing so.

The life insurance products that are most often sold include term life, universal life, whole life, credit life, and accidental death benefit policies. These products are sold as individual policies, as part of employment benefit plans, and as benefits under consumer contracts through our banks, credit card companies, and finance companies.

When they sell us their life insurance policies, insurance companies are making a very important promise to each of us, in turn allowing each of us to fulfill our own promises. Yet time and again life insurance companies look for any means to break their promise, and any excuse not to pay insurance claims.

We all pay a lot of money for the promise of protection insurance companies make. Every insurance company should stand by the promises that it makes. Many do not, because there is profit in collecting premiums and then denying claims.

Home Insurance

We insure our homes and personal belongings because we recognize that there is a risk that we can lose these things through calamity. Insurance companies know that we feel this way, and they seek us out to pay large premiums for their promise to provide protection against events such as flood, fire, theft, and many other unforeseen events that may cause damage to our homes.

The promises insurance companies make do not come cheap. We pay a lot of money for their protection, and in turn, we should receive the full value of what they sell. Homeowner insurance coverage should be reliable, and every homeowner insurance company should stand behind the promises they promote. Unfortunately, many do not.  Instead, they reap huge profit by collecting premiums and then denying claims.

Auto / UM / UIM Insurance

Every California driver has a right under the California Insurance Code to a very important type of insurance. As part of every automobile liability insurance policy, it is mandatory that uninsured / underinsured (UM / UIM) motorist coverage be included as part of every automobile insurance policy in California.

Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance that protects a driver, passengers, pedestrians, when they are injured as a result of the negligence of the driver of an automobile that does not have insurance. It is a type of “first party” insurance (like life insurance, health insurance, and homeowner’s insurance), through which your insurance company makes a promise to you to pay your claim up to the uninsured motorist policy limits.

Underinsured motorist coverage is very similar to uninsured motorist coverage. The main difference is that underinsured motorist coverage provides insurance up to the policy limit when a negligent driver carries limits of insurance that are less than the limits of the underinsured policy. For example, if somebody negligently crashes into you but they only have a $15,000 (minimum) policy, and you have $50,000 in damages. If you have Underinsured Motorist Limits of $50,000 or more, your own insurance will cover you up to the amount of your loss after you have first collected the $15,000 policy limits from the negligent driver who hit you.

Your own insurance company who sold you your UM / UIM coverage has a duty of good faith and fair dealing. Your insurance company breaches that duty when it breaks its promise to fully and fairly investigate your claim, to not raise bogus defenses, and to promptly pay you the full value of your claim. An insurance company’s promise to be fair, honest and prompt in handling UM / UIM claims is a very important part of every automobile insurance policy.

ERISA Insurance Policies

In addition to numerous types of insurance policies, we have special expertise dealing with group insurance policies that provide employee benefits, such as employee health or disability insurance. Many such insurance providers claim to be protected from insurance bad faith law suits under the federal legislation known as ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974).

Unfortunately for consumers who have been abused by these companies, the ERISA regulations do protect them from most of the damages available through bad faith litigation, such as punitive damages. However, many policies are outside of ERISA regulation, and are subject to bad faith law suits. You should never trust insurers’ claims that they are shielded by ERISA.  Talk to an experienced insurance lawyer first and find out if you have a valid case.

We insist on reviewing the full insurance policy and other critical documents to determine whether or not ERISA regulations apply. In many cases, this careful review of the policy shows that ERISA does not apply, allowing for a full bad faith lawsuit to be filed with claims for all types of damages. Even when ERISA does apply, the insurance company may be required to pay your attorney’s fees when we succeed in making them pay benefits.

Credit Insurance

Financial institutions routinely offer insurance to consumers to protect against disability, death, or other calamity. Credit card companies, banks, mortgage companies, and other types of lenders offer consumers the opportunity to purchase credit disability insurance, credit life insurance, mortgage disability insurance, mortgage life insurance, accidental death insurance, and similar insurance products. These policies are purchased by responsible consumers who are trying to protect themselves and their families in the event of death, disability, or job loss. Consumers who purchase these policies pay premiums in advance so that if calamity strikes, they are able to meet their own financial obligations and to take care of their families.

The companies that sell these policies routinely deny claims and refuse to pay benefits owing under the policies. Insurance companies who sell these products often assert bogus reasons why they should not pay, and they hide behind unclear policy language and misrepresentations regarding coverage.

Mortgage Insurance

Lenders routinely offer insurance to consumers to protect their mortgages in the event of disability, death, or other calamity. They offer consumers the opportunity to purchase credit disability insurance, credit life insurance, mortgage disability insurance, mortgage life insurance, accidental death insurance, and similar insurance coverage products. These policies are purchased by responsible consumers who are trying to protect themselves and their families in the event of death, disability, or job loss.

The companies that sell these policies routinely deny claims and refuse to pay benefits owing under the policies. Insurance companies who sell these products often assert bogus reasons why they should not pay, and they hide behind unclear policy language and misrepresentations regarding coverage.

Long Term Care Insurance

Each of us shares a horrible fear that someday as we grow old we will become sick and unable to care for ourselves, and that we may become a burden on our families. The insurance companies that sell long term care insurance coverage know all too well about this fear, and they offer insurance products to provide us peace of mind so that if and when the time comes that long term care becomes necessary, there will be money to pay for it.

We are seeing an increase in long term care insurance claim denials involving people with AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, and other debilitating diseases.  Often this is due to ambiguous language found in their policies, such as an undefined requirement for “continual” or “substantial supervision.” Every state has laws protecting policyholders against such ambiguous policy terms, and the court will define any ambiguous language in a manner that is most favorable to the policyholder.

The fact is, you don’t need to be bedridden or significantly impaired in order to require long term care.  Although the insurance company would like you to believe your condition does not warrant your insurance claim, most often they are simply trying to unjustly escape their responsibility to pay your valid claim.

Business Insurance

Responsible business owners purchase insurance, and often pay very large premiums, because they recognize that they can suffer loss through calamity. Insurance companies sell policies that protect against loss of profits, business closure, liability, lost inventory, damage to products, and a whole host of other insurable interests.

Our experienced and aggressive insurance bad faith attorneys dedicate themselves solely to helping clients obtain the full amount of insurance coverage outlined in their policies.  We are not afraid of going up against even the toughest and most resourceful insurance companies.  Because of this, we’ve achieved outstanding results for our clients.

Errors & Omissions Insurance

Errors & Omissions insurance (E&O policies), also known as professional liability insurance, is an important safety net for every professional.

There is a cliche that holds a kernel of truth that “to err is human.” Errors and omissions insurance, which includes malpractice insurance, is how responsible professionals protect themselves and their companies from the damage that can occur when mistakes are made.

Errors & Omissions insurance is often purchased by doctors (medical malpractice insurance), lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, equipment installers, contractors, builders, and a whole host of other professionals and trades people.

Unfortunately, insurance companies often seek to avoid responsibility under this type of insurance, many times without any good faith basis for doing so. Just like the rest of us, insurance companies should stand by their promises and not make excuses to not pay legitimate claims, just because it is profitable to do so.

Flood Insurance

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), over 5.5 million people currently hold flood insurance policies in more than 20,500 communities across the U.S.  Homes built in areas deemed to be “Special Flood Hazard Area” (SFHA) are required by law to maintain flood insurance in order to be eligible for a federally backed loan.

Over the past ten years, new land development has increased the risk of floods, hence the increased demand for flood insurance.  Additionally in the past ten years, flood losses in the United States averaged approximately $2.4 billion each year.

Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states, and just an inch of water can cause tremendous damage to a home or business.  FEMA’s flood information site states that “everyone lives in a flood zone” – it’s just a matter of whether your flood risk is low, moderate or high.

If you’ve ever experienced water damage, you understand how important flood insurance can be.   The last thing you want to deal with is an insurance company giving you the run around.  The success of your claim is imperative to restoring your home and belongings, and getting your life back in order as quickly as possible.

Contact a Sacramento Insurance Lawyer for Help with an Insurance Claim

Sacramento insurance lawyer, Eric Ratinoff, handles insurance bad faith matters throughout California. We would be happy to hear your story and review your insurance policy, free of charge and obligation. To set up your free and confidential case evaluation, call our injury attorneys at (916) 473-1529 or toll free at (866) 527-4278 or fill out the form on this page.

En español: Casos en seguros de “mala fe”