Whether you are in “good hands”, your insurance company is “like a good neighbor”, or just claims to be “on your side”; the reality is that you and your insurance company will not always see eye-to-eye when it comes to adjusting your claim. You need to know your rights before push comes to shove.
First, suing your own insurance company should be a last resort. They do not like to be sued and they do not like threats of litigation from their policy holders, and they have lots of lawyers that they are not afraid to use. Threats of litigation are not sound negotiating strategy when dealing with your own insurance company and such threats will likely backfire. It highly doubtful that a threat to sue or the actual filing of a lawsuit will speed up the claims process or encourage a more favorable position on your claim – just the opposite is likely.
The lawyers at OLG have represented insurance companies and they have sued insurance companies. As a result, they know how insurance companies operate and can assist you in dealing with yours. If you and your insurance company have reached an impasse and you are convinced that litigation is the only resort, you need to be aware of your rights and the specific time frames for asserting those rights before they are lost forever.
If your insurance company has treated you unfairly or breached your insurance contact, you may have claims based on statue, contract, or common law. Each type of claim has specific elements that must be met and each has a different statutory period of limitations, beyond which you will have lost the right to sue.
Like most states, Nevada has adopted the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (“UCSPA”) which statutorily identifies the actions of your insurance company that are considered unfair. If the insurance company violates the UCSPA, a policyholder has a statutorily protected private right of action..
If your claim is unreasonably denied or policy benefits are improperly withheld, you may also have a claim for insurance bad faith. The elements of a bad faith claim are more stringent that those for breach of the UCSPA and not every breach of the UCSPA will be considered bad faith. Bad faith exists when your insurer acts unreasonably or negligently without a reasonable basis for its conduct. Nevada courts have held that insurance bad faith claims are based upon a “liability not founded on a written instrument”. .
If for some unfathomable reason you have missed the time frame for filing a claim pursuant to the UCSPA or insurance bad faith, you may not be entirely out of luck, but you will have lost the right to UCSPA and bad faith claims. The limitation period in which you can bring a straight breach of contract claim is 6 years.
But why would you ever wait 6 years?