Much like death and taxes, insurance is one of life's certainties. You have to have auto insurance to drive a car, homeowner’s insurance to buy a house and health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. You may choose to buy life insurance to assist your loved ones in the event of your death, disability insurance in case you cannot work for a period of time, or long-term care insurance as you age.
Insurance is a business based on risk. It’s there to help if you cannot afford to fix something that has gone wrong, such as a car accident, a tree falling on your roof or the medical costs of an illness. Insurance companies crunch a bunch of numbers to come up with an educated guess of how much is fair to charge for taking the financial risk on your behalf. You pay that cost (called a premium), which the insurance company combines with other policyholders’ premiums. If any insured person or business makes a covered claim, it is paid out from the pool of funds.
Regrettably, some insurers behave inappropriately in their quest for financial gain. In every insurance policy, there is a stated or implied "covenant of good faith and fair dealing," which means that both the insurer and the insured are expected to act fairly, with good faith, concerning their contract. Common ways that insurance carriers unfairly interfere with an insured’s rights to receive benefits include:
- Denying the complete benefits listed in the policy
- Failing to properly investigate a claim
- Unjustifiably offering less than what is due under the policy
- Unjustly cancelling a policy
- Unreasonably delaying payment.
Not paying claims means more profit for insurers, so when property has been damaged, insurance companies send adjustors to investigate just how the damage happened and what it will cost to repair. Policyholders can hire public adjustors to help protect their interests in determining the amount of loss and timely gathering information. Recently, a public adjustor working for an Orlando hotel was arrested and charged with four counts of insurance fraud and one count of scheme to defraud after he filed a claim on their behalf relating to fire damage. The hotel's insurer, Sunrise-based Capacity Insurance Co., complained to the state that the adjustor, Robert Leverett, inflated the claim.
Fortunately for the maligned adjustor, there was documentation available to prove that his assessment was correct. With no evidence to support the accusations, the charges were quickly dropped, but the experience did not leave Mr. Leverett unaffected. The false, misleading and/or incomplete information provided by Capacity to the authorities that led to Mr. Leverett's being falsely accused of overestimating the hotel fire claim caused him mental anguish, loss of income and damage to his reputation.
Imagine being faced with 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines, despite being innocent. No one should have to be subjected to that. Mr. Leverett came to us to for help after going through such an ordeal and having his life virtually ruined simply because an insurer wanted to avoid paying a claim. In response, attorney Todd Stabinski filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit to secure financial compensation for the damage that the false claims caused Mr. Leverett to suffer.
Although insurance fraud is a problem within today’s industry, insurance companies must be certain that they are not baselessly accusing innocent parties like Mr. Leverett. Malicious allegations of fraud that lead to criminal charges yet have no evidence to back them up means that the insurer did not have probable cause to start the action. The loss of time, money and dignity due to a harassing lawsuit is something no one should have to experience.
As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has for decades been the firm to trust for legal issues involving insurance bad faith litigation as well as malicious prosecution cases. We strive to maintain client satisfaction and a track record of success in every case we handle. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us today by calling (305) 643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.
DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).