My coverage is 100/300. The person I rear ended has 22K in medical costs at this point (accident happened 3 months ago). Attorney for Plaintiff (no suit yet) has made a policy limits demand. What should I do to protect myself if my insurance denies this demand and leaves me at risk if a later judgment exceeds my limits? What should I do to make sure a bad faith claim, or the potential for one, keeps my claims rep having my best interests in mind? A little off topic but does the size of the settlement affect my insurance rate?
Size does not affect rate. Also you should tell the adjuster to pay the policy. Only if the 100 policy is not enough to cover the meds and pain and suffering will you have to worry about a excess claim. But if the claim is worth more than the policy and they don't pay the policy when demanded then you will have a right to make your insurance pay the full judgment amount. But at this point if the meds are 22k and there on futures claimed the 100k policy should cover the claim.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys are constantly searching for ways to maximize a recovery for their clients. Plaintiff’s attorneys do not want to collect damages from the actual tortfeasor. That can be difficult and time consuming. Instead, they like to collect directly from the insurance companies.
All adjusters know that insurance policies are written with limitations. Under the policy, the amount of the premium will dictate how much the carrier will have to pay out.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys know of these limitations and are always looking for ways to get around them. Plaintiffs’ attorneys and insurance companies both know that if the carrier acts in bad faith, it can be called upon to pay more than the policy limit. Bad faith claims are a concern for every insurance carrier. Not only do they damage the carrier’s public image, they also place an insurance carrier at risk to pay damages in excess of the policy limit. Along with that, there is also the risk that the carrier will have to pay a claim for punitive damages.
First, its good you have 100/300 limits as this is more than the minimum limits I usually see most people carry. Its very common for your insurance company to deny to pay an initial demand of full policy limits, as they want to pay as little as possible. Most cases like this resolve within policy limits, and you are ok for now. If you are stressing over the deal, you can always hire a local attorney to assist you.
Your liability carrier has obligations to you, their insured. If it is possible to settle this case within the policy limits yet later you end up with a judgment in excess of the policy limits, then you should consult with an insurance bad faith attorney to explore your rights against the carrier. However, with 22k in medical bills, the odds that this doesn't get resolved within policy limits is pretty low, as is the possibility of a jury verdict in excess of 100k.
You should contact an attorney who does Plaintiff Personal Injury work to advise you about what you need to do to protect your own assets from an excess claim. There are things he or she can do to shift that risk back onto the insurance company's shoulders and off of yours. Yes, the size of the settlement affects your rates but your rates were also initially impacted by the fact that this was considered an "at-fault" claim against your policy. Nothing you can do about that but you do need to protect your assets against an excess claim. Basically, you want to demand, in writing, that the insurance company settle within your policy limits. That's what shifts the excess responsibility back onto their shoulders. Don't try to do it yourself, There are nuances to it that a capable attorney will know about.
You should tell your insured, in writing, to act in your best interests by paying the policy limits. Make sure to include that their failure to look out for your best interests will give rise to a claim against the insurance company for bad faith litigation.
I have a brief legal guide on my profile about bad faith litigation. Here's the link. http://bit.ly/YZL4SD
Hire a local attorney for advise. Usually, a letter is sent by your lawyer to the insurance company demanding they settle the claim for the policy limits. That same letter indicated to the insurance company that if they decide to take the risk of getting a judgment within the policy limits but end up with an excess verdict, it will be their responsibility to pay the entire judgment as such was done in bad faith. Some attorneys also request in writing whether the insurance company is providng you "reinsurance" for any excess judgment no matter the amount. A local attorney should be able to handle this for you.
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