insurance litigation

California law provides substantial protections to insurance policyholders, in order to prevent the insurance company from dealing with them in an unfair or oppressive manner.  This protection exists at three basic levels.  First, an insurance policy is a contract, and so the insurance company will be liable for any failure to honor its contractual promises, such as where it denies the payment of benefits due under the policy.  Second, an insurance company is uniquely liable to the policyholder if it acts in “bad faith,” i.e., where the company’s denial of benefits was not merely mistaken judgment, but rather the product of unreasonable conduct.  This violation gives rise to additional damages to the insured, over and above the basic policy benefits. Third, if the insurer acts with fraud, oppression or malice, it can liable for punitive damages—an additional level of monetary liability designed to punish and deter such bad conduct.  

Bad faith conduct by an insurance company can take many forms.  In the context of “first-party” claims (where the company is to pay benefits to the insured for her own loss), this can be failing to properly investigate a claim, unreasonably delaying the payment of a claim, or denying a claim without a reasonable basis.  In the context of “third-party” claims (where the insurer must defend and indemnify the insurer when sued), this can be the failure to defend or indemnify the insured without an adequate basis for doing so.

Insurance companies have a particularly bad track record of dealing unfairly with their customers—often knowingly denying valid claims simply to increase profits.  If you believe your insurance company is shirking its obligations to you, Mr. Mandlekar may be able to help.