Is the Tort of Bad Faith a Victim of the Law of Unintended Consequences?
The law of unintended consequences is not statutory. No state or federal government has enacted it into law. No executive has signed the law. It is, rather, a law of the nature of people. It is an adage or idiomatic warning that an intervention in a complex system always creates unanticipated and often undesirable out comes.
Science and general observation allows the statement that actions of people, especially of governments, will always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries. Regardless, for just as long, politicians, insurers and popular opinion have largely ignored it to their detriment.
The concept of unintended consequences is one of the building blocks of economics. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” the most famous metaphor in social science, is an example of a positive unintended consequence.
Most often, however, the law of unintended consequences illuminates the perverse unanticipated effects of legislation and regulation. In 1692 the English philosopher John Locke, a forerunner of modern economists, urged the defeat of a parliamentary bill designed to cut the maximum permissible rate of interest from 6 percent to 4 percent. Insurance is controlled by the courts, through appellate decisions, and by governmental agencies, through statute and regulation. Compliance with the appellate decisions, statutes, and regulations—different in the various states—is exceedingly difficult and expensive.
The business of insurance is, unfortunately, subject to the law of unintended consequences as if it were on steroids.
© 2020 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as a
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.
Over the last 52 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.
Read posts from Barry Zalma at https://parler.com/profile/Zalma/posts