Written by attorney Marshall Ross Hoekel

Insurance Companies Vexatious Refusal to Settle in Missouri

Insurance Company Denial and Vexatious Refusal to Pay

Insurance companies can infamously deny claims by their insureds on legitimate claims in the hard ball business of claims adjusting. Denied insurance claims can be frustrating and confusing for a claimant to handle. Missouri law gives the insured the right to bring a claim for vexatious refusal to pay against their insurance company if they believe their claim has been wrongly denied. In addition to recovering the amount wrongly denied, the policy owner may recover their reasonable attorney fees, a penalty of up 20% of the first $1,500 of the loss and10% of any additional amounts. Overly aggressive insurance claims adjusters can leave their company exposed to vexatious refusal law suits.

Frequently denials occur on fire cases where there is evidence of arson and on policies where the claimant is entitled to replacement cost of the damaged property. For personal property, the policies will typically cover only actual cash value unless the homeowner has purchased an endorsement to cover replacement cost. If your policy only covers actual cash value, the insurance company will not pay the cost to replace the damaged areas of your home. Instead, they will only pay the current, depreciated value of the damage.

Where the insurance policy provides for replacement cost coverage, the insurance company is obligated to pay the full cost to replace the damaged structures or property. The insurance company will estimate the damage and pay up front the depreciated value of the damage. They will, however, withhold what they call replacement cost hold back, or the difference between the replacement cost and the depreciated value. Once repairs are undertaken, the insurance company is then obligated to pay the depreciation and bring their full payment up to the replacement cost value.

Arson denial cases will involve a cause and origin expert to assist in the investigation of arson. The claimant may also need an appraisal expert to assist them in calculating both the personal property loss and the loss to any real property. The expertise of these experts and an attorney experienced in vexatious refusal claims may help you make your rightful recovery against your insurance company.

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