Thursday, January 7, 2021

UIM Bad Faith Claim Dismissed Where No Evidence Found Sufficient To Allow Claims to Proceed

In the case of Bogats v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 2:18-CV-708 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 30, 2020 Cercone, J.), the court dismissed a bad faith claim based upon allegations of poor claims handling in a UIM matter.

In part, the Plaintiff alleged bad faith in that the carrier allegedly failed to disclose that the Plaintiff’s stepson also had an automobile insurance policy with the carrier at the same time, which would considerably increase the potential UIM coverage.

According to the Opinion, the stepson’s policy was listed to a different home address. The stepfather advised the carrier that this was not accurate and an investigation into the stepson’s address ensued. The carrier ultimately agreed that there was additional UIM coverage available under the stepson’s policy. However, the carrier concluded that there was no factual basis to increase the settlement offer based upon the evidence presented.

The court found no support for the Plaintiff’s allegation that the carrier had misled the stepfather-insured into thinking there was less coverage then was actually available. The court also found no support for any reckless or intentional misconduct on the part of the carrier to support a bad faith claim.

The court otherwise found that the carrier’s claims handling was reasonable in that it considered multiple requests by the Plaintiff to re-evaluate the claim and had also agreed to the additional UIM coverage without significant delay once the actual address of the stepson was verified.  

Also, no evidence was found to support the argument that the carrier had engaged in course of conduct with intent to promote the carrier’s financial interests over its fiduciary duties to the Plaintiffs, or that the carrier had recklessly pursued a course of conduct that evidence bad faith towards its insured.

As such, the Plaintiff’s bad faith claims were dismissed.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK

I send thanks to Attorney Lee Applebaum Philadelphia law firm of Fineman, Krekstein & Harris. Attorney Applebaum is the writer of the excellent Pennsylvania and New Jersey Insurance Bad Faith Case Law blog, which can be viewed HERE.

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