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INSURANCE BAD FAITH LAW: Washington vs British Columbia

The Washington legislature vests the (elected) Washington State Insurance Commissioner with the authority to issue regulations identifying acts an insurer may commit which violate the duties of good faith and fair dealing. The following acts have been specifically identified as such in the Washington Administrative Code with respect to the settlement of claims; other provisions address the handling of coverage disputes, resolution of first-party property damage claims, and other situations:

WAC 284-30-330 Specific unfair claims settlement practices defined.
The following are hereby defined as unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance, specifically applicable to the settlement of claims:

(1) Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions.

(2) Failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communications with respect to claims arising under insurance policies.

(3) Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims arising under insurance policies.

(4) Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation.

(5) Failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss statements have been completed.

(6) Not attempting in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear. In particular, this includes an obligation to effectuate prompt payment of property damage claims to innocent third parties in clear liability situations. If two or more insurers are involved, they should arrange to make such payment, leaving to themselves the burden of apportioning it.

(7) Compelling insureds to institute or submit to litigation, arbitration, or appraisal to recover amounts due under an insurance policy by offering substantially less than the amounts ultimately recovered in such actions or proceedings.

(8) Attempting to settle a claim for less than the amount to which a reasonable man would have believed he was entitled by reference to written or printed advertising material accompanying or made part of an application.

(9) Making claims payments to insured's or beneficiaries not accompanied by a statement setting forth the coverage under which the payments are being made.

(10) Asserting to insureds or claimants a policy of appealing from arbitration awards in favor of insureds or claimants for the purpose of compelling them to accept settlements or compromises less than the amount awarded in arbitration.

I'll continue on with the next nine points in the next post. Stay tuned...

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