You Can Avoid Bad Faith By Training Claims Personnel
If Your Claims Personnel are Inadequate or Unprofessional you are Begging to be Sued for Bad Faith
Insurance is a business of utmost good faith. Each party to the contract of insurance must do nothing to deprive the other of the benefits of the contract of insurance. To fulfill the covenant the insurer’s representative must understand contracts, the law of interpretation of insurance contracts, the law of torts, what is needed to prove a claim for the insured to obtain the indemnity promised by the policy.
As the Baby Boom generation retires insurers are obligated to hire new, young and inexperienced claims personnel out of a employment market where there are more jobs available than people needed to fill them. Insurers are faced with an effort to bring a new crop of graduates into the insurance profession. Since most insurer based insurance training departments have been eliminated there is a need for other means to train a new generation of claims professionals.
To assist the insurance industry Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, an insurance coverage and claims expert and consultant, has created a library of insurance claims books and internet based training programs to make it possible for insurers to develop a claims staff of insurance claims professionals.
The books described in this post need a home in each law office, each insurance company. each independent adjuster’s claims office and in the offices of every public insurance adjusting firm.
Barry Zalma’s Insurance Claims Library provides the insurance law and insurance claims information needed by every claims person and insured. They are available on amazon.com and at http://zalma.com/blog/insurance-claims-library/ or the individual links at each described book and web based training at experfy.com and illumeo.com or you can have Barry Zalma present the training live to your personnel
“California Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations”
A Guide to Insureds, Public Insurance Adjusters, and Lawyers to Properly Investigate and Adjust Insurance Claims
This book was designed to assist insurance personnel who do business in the state of California. It will assist all insurance claims personnel, claims professionals, independent insurance adjusters, special fraud investigators, private investigators who work for the insurance industry, the management in the industry, the attorneys who serve the industry, public insurance adjusters, policyholders and counsel for policyholders working with insurers doing business in California. All insurers doing business in California must comply with the requirements of the Regulations or face the ire of, and attempts at financial punishment from, the CDOI. That punishment is now questionable and limited because some courageous insurers fought the CDOI and succeeded before an administrative law judge who limited the right to punish. Regardless of difficulties in assessing punishment the state of California requires all who are involved in the claims process — even if only tangentially — to be trained with regard claims handling in compliance with the Regulations and attest to completion of such training under oath. To avoid the annual training the claims person can submit a sworn document that avers that he or she has read and understood the Regulations. Reviewing this book and the Regulations set forth below should be sufficient to comply with the training requirements of the Regulations. It is necessary that insurance personnel who are engaged in any way in the presentation, processing, or negotiation of insurance claims in California be familiar with the Regulations. Counsel for insurers and policyholders should also be familiar with the Regulations since they set a minimum standard for claims handling in the state.
The State of California Imposes Control on the Investigation of Insurance Fraud
California SIU Regulations is designed to assist California insurance claims personnel, claims professionals, independent insurance adjusters, special fraud investigators, private investigators who work for the insurance industry, the management in the industry, the attorneys who serve the industry, and all integral anti-fraud personnel working with California admitted insurers to comply with the requirements of California SIU Claims Regulations.
The state of California, by statute, requires all admitted insurers to maintain a Special Investigative Unit (an “SIU”) that complies with the requirements set forth in the Special Investigative Unit Regulations (the “SIU Regulations”) and train all integral anti-fraud personnel to recognize indicators of insurance fraud.
Methods for Insurers and their Personnel to Act with the Utmost Good Faith
Ethics is a process of systematically applying, using, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Ethical behavior is required of both parties to a contract of insurance for the system to work. Ethics is the essence of insurance. Ethical behavior is required of both parties to a contract of insurance for the system to work. If any party to the insurance contract acts unethically the ability of insurance to work effectively and profitably will fail. Ethics is the essence of insurance. Since insurance was first created it has been a business of utmost good faith. As a result, the insured and the insurer are expected to treat each other ethically.
“Rescission of Insurance”
Rescission is an equitable remedy as ancient as the common law of Britain. When the United States was conceived in 1776 the founders were concerned with protecting their rights under British common law. They adopted it as the law of the new United States of America modified only by the limitations placed on the central government by the U.S. Constitution approved in 1789. The viability and ability to enforce contracts was recognized as essential to commerce. Courts of law were charged with enforcing legitimate contracts. Courts of equity were charged with protecting contracting parties from mistake, fraud, misrepresentation and concealment since enforcing a contract based on mistake, fraud, misrepresentation or concealment would not be fair. The common law developed rules that courts could follow to refuse to enforce the terms of a contract that was entered into because of mutual mistake of material fact, a unilateral mistake of material fact, the breach of warranty (a presumptively material promise to do or not do something), a material concealment, or a material misrepresentation. The remedy – called rescission – created a method to apply fairness to the insurance contract and allow an insurer to void a contract and allowed courts to refuse to enforce such a contract entered into by misrepresentation or concealment of material facts.
“The Insurance Examination Under Oath”
The insurance Examination Under Oath (“EUO”) is a formal type of interview authorized by an insurance contract. It is taken under the authority provided by a condition of the insurance contract that compels the insured to appear and give sworn testimony on the demand of the insurer or find his, her or it claim rejected for breach of a condition. A notary and a certified shorthand reporter are always present to give the oath to the person interviewed and record the entire conversation.
After more than 50 years acting as a claims person and insurance coverage lawyer I enjoy reading court decisions concerning insurance. The idea of this blog is to find new cases that are interesting to me and then write a summary. Some of the cases reviewed will be important. Some may be of first impression. Others will be totally unimportant. All will be interesting.
The case digests and articles from 2010 to the present, in the six volumes summarize cases published by courts of the various states and the United States. The court decisions have been modified from the actual language of the court decisions, were condensed for ease of reading, and convey the opinions of the author regarding each case.
For information on all of Barry Zalma’s insurance books go to http://zalma.com/blog/insurance-claims-library/