Summary: Stefanie Hardacre struck and injured motorcyclist Grand Nelson. A third vehicle was also involved, but that driver’s insurer paid Nelson the policy limits of $100,000. Hardacre’s insurer, Progressive, determined that Hardacre was not at fault. Progressive denied Nelson’s claim; it had closed its investigation file three days after acknowledging receipt.
We cover current issues, highlights and best practices exclusively on claims of bad faith and extra contractual damages.
Franklin Kropilak was badly injured when Collins made a left hand turn in front of his motorcycle. The insured was cited by a police officer just after the accident. 21st Century had the police report within in one week and within in two weeks knew that the hospital lien was $33,888. The policy for Collins provided for a liability limit of $10,000 for the crash. Thirty-seven days after the accident the insurer mailed to the attorney for the plaintiff a check for the policy limits. The plaintiff never accepted the policy limits. He did not cash the check. More than a year later in March the plaintiff proposed a settlement whereby consent judgment would be entered against Collins for $150,000 but Kropilak would agree to pursue only the insurance company for the amount in excess of her coverage. 21st Century did not agree to this proposed settlement, which the parties referred to as a Cunningham agreement.
Summary: Bruhn Farms Joint Venture (“Bruhn”) suffered significant hail damage to crops. Bruhn notified the insurer of the hail damage. After a month of no action, Bruhn requested and received approval to harvest the crops. By the time insurer sent adjusters to the farm, additional inclement weather had occurred. The adjusters, after spending minimal amount of time in the fields, determined the payable loss and notified Bruhn. Bruhn disagreed with the adjusted loss and refused to sign the proof of loss. The insurer sent payment for the loss without further discussion with Bruhn. Bruhn contacted his insurance agent to negotiate with the insurer. Allegedly both parties agreed to re-calculate the loss using the historical yields. The insurer notified Bruhn’s agent it was willing to pay additional funds on Bruhn’s claim. However, when Bruhn’s agent attempted to accept, the insurer alleged the claim was properly adjusted and paid.
Summary: The insureds sued their homeowners’ insurer and the defense attorneys hired by the insurer alleging bad faith in handling their claim, legal malpractice, and breach of fiduciary duty. The insurer resolved the bad faith claim by funding a settlement of the underlying third party claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed judgment entered in favor of the defense attorneys after an analysis of the challenging relationship between insurer, defense attorney, and insured. This case serves as a reminder that proper handling of the tri-partite relationship is necessary whenever the insurer has a duty to defend; otherwise, the insurer may face bad faith exposure.
Summary: An employer’s excess insurer brought an action for bad faith against the primary insurer, which had defended the employer against a worker’s personal injury action that resulted in a settlement in excess of the primary insurer’s limits. The excess insurer alleged the primary insurer should have settled the case within the primary carrier’s policy’s limits. The trial court dismissed the claim finding it was not actionable when there was no excess judgment entered against the insured. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.