Property damage insurance is invaluable after major weather events or even criminal incidents. Homeowners file claims to replace roofs or broken windows while only needing to cover their deductible, in most cases. Policy documents generally determine what coverage someone can expect to receive and when they have the right to make a claim.
Insurance companies must abide by their policies in good faith or they could face litigation filed by policyholders denied the coverage they deserve. Sometimes, there is a very fine line between good business practices and bad faith insurance practices. Stonewalling, for example, is an insurance tactic that comes very close to crossing the line between what is acceptable and what is not.
Stonewalling affects communications and negotiations
Insurance professionals generally need to discuss the circumstances leading to a claim with the policyholder and the estimates for repairs with the professionals chosen to handle the storm damage or other property issues. Unfortunately, one of the ways that insurance adjusters get the upper hand in such a negotiation involves the outright refusal to communicate with other parties.
Stonewalling may involve an insurance adjuster blatantly refusing to return someone’s phone calls. They may ignore the policyholder or possibly the construction professionals attempting to get approval for their estimate. Other times, stonewalling may be a direct negotiation tactic. They may counter a claim with a different offer and then refuse to respond to any follow-up communications. Although bad faith insurance laws do not inherently prohibit stonewalling and similar aggressive negotiation tactics, such strategies are often indicative of an adversarial attitude that often goes hand-in-hand with a bad faith approach to handling claims.
What can policyholders do?
Those denied the coverage for which they have paid for years may need to get professional help when negotiating with the insurance company. Bad faith insurance claims can compensate policyholders and create penalties for insurance companies that could prompt them to change how they do business in the future.
Those who are struggling with an adversarial insurance professional who does not seem to want to support a policyholder may benefit from seeking legal guidance. Discussing how the insurance company has responded to a sizable claim can help someone establish whether or not the situation may constitute bad faith insurance practices and if it necessitates legal action.