They Call It Bad Faith Because There Is Nothing Good About It
Your insurance company is obligated by law to treat you fairly and settle your claim in a timely manner. But is this the way you are being treated?
Is your insurance company:
- Not returning your telephone calls?
- Not updating you on the status of your claim?
- Not paying you reasonable living expenses while you wait for the claim to settle?
- Making repeated requests for the same documents?
- Dragging its feet every step of the way?
- Treating you rudely and more like an adversary than "a good neighbor?"
A leader in establishing insurance bad faith
Bob Rutter handled the two primary cases in Ohio that set the standard for insurance bad faith: Zoppo v. Homestead Insurance Company (a fire loss case) and Said v. Motorists Mutual Insurance Company (an uninsured motorist claim).
He has also written an article entitled "Insurance Bad Faith In Ohio After Zoppo: Where Are We?" In addition, Bob has lectured throughout the country on insurance bad faith. Insurance companies know him and respect him, and the reason is simple — he gets results.
Contact Rutter & Russin, attorneys with significant trial experience in exposing bad faith insurance practices.
The insurer refused to defend its insured in a lawsuit alleging a serious personal injury to the victim. The insurer’s intractable position – no coverage. The victim’s lawyer went forward and obtained a $6.5 million judgment against the insured. But how to collect?
We stepped in and handled the assignment of the insured’s bad faith claim to the victim, and then filed a bad faith claim against the insurer, asserting that there was coverage under the policy and there had been a corresponding duty to defend that the insurer had breached. Discovery disclosed that the insurer had conducted a one-sided and incomplete claim investigation, and a thorough investigation would have shown that coverage existed. A federal judge agreed with our position and held that the insurer had breached its duty to defend. Still, the insurance company resisted, arguing that the amount of the judgment was not binding on it since it had not been a party—even though that decision was by its own choice. The matter eventually resolved after mediation for a confidential sum.
No arrests were made when a Cleveland bar was intentionally burned, but the insurance company still denied the owner's claim asserting that he had set the fire. The owner believed that the fire had probably been set by some former patrons that he had kicked out for causing trouble. The jury determined that the owner was not involved in setting the fire, and awarded him $80,000 for his property loss plus another $187,000 for bad faith and attorneys' fees. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the jury's verdict including the jury's decision that a further amount should be awarded to the owner for punitive damages. The punitive damage claim was later settled for a confidential amount.
The city tore down the insured's house the night of the fire, before the insured had a chance to inventory her personal belongings. She was left with the task of trying to remember everything that was in the house down to the last pencil. Not satisfied with just a list of the damaged property, the insurance company insisted that she provide the place of purchase, the date of purchase, the purchase price, the method of payment, the invoice or other record of purchase, a description and the item's exact location in the house. The insured tried to comply, but the insurance company decided that she had misrepresented where she had purchased a few items and how she had paid for them. It also challenged whether she even earned enough money to have bought everything she claimed to own and denied the entire claim, including payment for the house, on the basis of fraud. Rutter & Russin took the case to an arbitration trial and prevailed, based primarily on the testimony of family members, friends and neighbors who were able to vouch for the insured having voluminous personal property. The arbitrator awarded full contract damages plus interest and attorney fees.
When his car was stolen and later recovered severely damaged all the insured wanted was the $7,000 market value of his car. Allstate saw things differently, and accused its insured of setting up the theft because Allstate's expert thought the car could only have been stolen using a key and the insured still had his keys. The jury disagreed with Allstate's theory, and awarded the insured not only the cost of his car, but bad faith, punitive damages, and attorney fees totaling $135,000.
An insurance company took nearly two years to pay its policyholders what they were owed after a fire destroyed their house. The carrier forced the policyholders to appraisal twice, refused to advance even the amounts it admitted it owed, and tried to get its contractor to cut corners on his repair estimate. Rutter & Russin represented the insureds and obtained a confidential six-figure settlement from the carrier for its bad faith conduct during the adjustment process.