Fighting for Your Rights as the Insured or as an Injured Third Party.
When the insurance company is not treating you fairly, or handling your claim quickly, you should consider hiring an experienced attorney like Matt Tourtlotte to help you understand your rights and stand up to the insurance company. Matt Tourtlotte spent more than ten years of his career working with and representing insurance companies. He understands the way insurance companies value claims, the way they negotiate, and the tactics they employ to pay less than the fair value of your claim.
Insurance Companies Must Act in Good Faith.
Insurance companies are required by Montana law to act in “good faith” when handling claims for their insureds and when handling claims against people who were injured or harmed by an accident. The insurance company must always investigate and handle claims quickly and fairly. Your insurance company must place your interests, as the insured, on equal footing with the interests of the company. Insurance companies who violate these duties of good faith and fair dealing are guilty of bad faith and unfair trade and settlement practices.
Unlike many other states, the duties of good faith and fair dealing also extend to injured third parties, who fall outside the insurer/insured relationship. Whether it’s your own insurance company, or the insurance company of the person(s) who injured you in an accident, the insurance company is always required to consider your interests, and where liability is reasonably clear, must place your interests at or above the interests of the company.
Moreover, an insurance company handling a claim in Montana must resolve claims quickly and fairly. The insurance company must promptly complete a full investigation of the claim and must investigate all of the available information, not just the information that will lower or eliminate the insurance company’s risk.
Under Montana law, an insurance company must settle claims when liability is reasonably clear. This means that if you are injured in an accident, and the accident was not your fault, the insurance company must settle your claim. Under Montana law insurance companies must also pay accident related medical expenses and wage loss without forcing you to sign a release.
How Does Insurance Bad Faith Occur?
Insurance bad faith isn’t limited to an outright denial of your claim. When an insurance company fails or refuses to deal with its insured or an injured third party with promptness and fairness the insurance company is guilty of acting in bad faith. Bad faith also occurs when the insurance company is holding up settlement, denying certain benefits but allowing others, or only partially paying claims, even though it is clear you deserve more.
Profits or People?
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. Whenever they can deny a claim, lower the amount that they will pay to settle a claim, or delay the settlement of a claim, insurance companies are making money. Business practices like these automatically place the insurance company interests above yours. Under Montana law, claimants who are injured by the actions or inactions of insurance companies may have a claim for statutory bad faith under the Montana Unfair Trade Practices Act or under common law theories of good faith and fair dealing.
Can You File a Claim Under the Montana Unfair Trade Practices Act?
Under Montana Law, an insurance company can be sued for statutory or common law bad faith. Statutory bad faith claims arise when and insurance company violates any of the prohibited acts set forth within the Montana Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA) An insurance company that performs any of the following acts, has violated the Montana UTPA.
- Denial of Coverage without Reason – Under Montana law, coverage exclusions for insurance policies are narrowly construed. This means that the insurance company must have a reasonable basis or an obvious reason for denying coverage to their insured. Insurance coverage disputes almost always require the assistance of an experienced insurance coverage attorney like Matt Tourtlotte.
- Failure to Investigate the Claim – When you file a claim, the insurance company must investigate it before they can deny it. Furthermore, the insurance company must investigate the claim with reasonable promptness. The insurance company is acting in bad faith if they deny the claim before considering the matter, if they deny the claim without considering all the available information, or if they unreasonably delay the investigation of the claim.
- Leaving a Claim Open for too Long – You have insurance so that if a claim arises, you won’t have to personally bear the burden of a big monetary loss. If the insurance company isn’t acting on your claim, you can suffer economic, opportunity, and other types of loss.
- Offering Less than the Claim is Worth – Let’s suppose a hail storm destroys the roof and siding on your house. The contractor says it will be $22,000 to fix everything, but then your insurance offers you $7,000. This amount is not nearly enough to cover your loss.
- Denying a Claim without Reason – If your claim is denied, you need to know why. If the insurance company won’t tell you why they’re denying the claim, they are not acting in good faith.
- Not Responding to Time Limit Demands – Until your claim is settled, you may be obligated to pay all the bills that are incurred. Medical facilities and other contractors involved in assessing and assisting with the loss will file liens against you personally. Unpaid obligations can damage your credit and even force you into bankruptcy. Putting a time limit on the insurance company forces them to decide to pay or contest the claim. If they simply choose to ignore the claim, they are acting in bad faith.
There are several other ways an insurance company can end up in violation of the Montana UTPA or the common law duties of good faith and fair dealing. If the insurance company is denying your claim, or they are ignoring you and not deciding, or they are offering a settlement that is less than the fair and reasonable value of your claim, the company may be acting in bad faith and violating your rights. If these things are happening to you, call Tourtlotte Law Firm in Billings at 406-294-3400.
Tourtlotte Law Firm in Billings Can Help.
Matt Tourtlotte has sixteen years of experience handling both the insured and the insurance side of bad faith lawsuits in Montana. He has litigated insurance bad faith claims in State and Federal Court. Matt understands how insurance companies value claims. He knows the tactics they employ to leverage claims and pay less than the fair and reasonable value of a claim. Matt’s expertise on insurance company tactics and insurance coverage issues make him the best choice to stand up for your rights. If you have an issue with the insurance company that you would like to discuss, call Matt today for your no obligation review, at 406-294-3400.
Matt Tourtlotte represented me in a work place harassment case. He obtained a settlement for me that changed my life.
Matt represented me in my automobile accident claim and helped me when I had no place else to turn.
I called Matt when I needed help. He was available to answer all of my questions and got me the result I was hoping for.
I called Matt when I needed help. He gave me the representation I needed when dealing with the insurance company.
Matt’s knowledge of insurance forced my insurance company to deal with my claim fairly and helped me get the money I deserved.
Montana Personal Injury Attorney
Tourtlotte Law Firm is located in Billings, Montana. We have helped people from all across our great state find justice. Are you ready to receive the compensation you deserve?
Tourtlotte Law Firm
Forest Park Professional Center
1643 North 24th Street W., Suite 308
Billings MT 59102