Insurance Company Bad Faith

The Vermont trial lawyers at Sylvester & Brow represent individuals in claims arising from disputes with insurance companies and agencies.

Those claims could involve instances where an insurance carrier wrongfully refuses to pay the Vermont claimant. The insurance claims include refusal to pay an appropriate amount under an insurance policy, failure to procure the appropriate amount of insurance coverage, denial of benefits of uninsured and under-insured motor vehicle insurance policies, and a wide variety of claims wrongfully denied by insurance companies. Please contact us via our inquiry form or call collect at 802-864-5723 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation with one of our lawyers.

A few examples of cases handled by the lawyers at Sylvester & Brow include:

  • Settlement in excess of $1 million dollars from a town, camp and operator of an automobile for a child age 10 who suffered a head injury after being struck by a vehicle while crossing a state road. Following a refusal by the operators insurer to pay the limits provided in their insured’s insurance policy, suit was filed and the insurer for the operator ultimately paid double the limits provided.
  • Insurer paid substantially in excess of their policy limits after refusing to make an offer to woman who suffered a back injury.

Please contact us via our inquiry form or call collect at 802-864-5723 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation with one of our lawyers.

Vermont Law Pertaining To Insurance Bad Faith

Vermont recognizes a claim for tortious bad faith brought by an insured against its own insurer when an insurer not only errs on denying coverage, but does so unreasonably. Bushey v. Allstate Ins. Co., 164 Vt. 399, 402 (1995). To establish a claim for bad faith, a plaintiff must show that (1) the insurer had no reasonable basis to deny the insured the benefits of the policy, and (2) the company knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that it had no reasonable basis for denying the insured’s claim. Id. As a necessary prerequisite, however, the plaintiff and defendant must have an insured/insurer relationship by virtue of a policy. Kirkpatrick v. Merit Behavioral Care Corp., 128 F.Supp.2d 186, 191 (D. Vt. 2000).

Vermont also recognizes a contractual bad faith claim based on a violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. “The implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing exists to ensure that parties to a contract act with ‘faithfulness to an agreed common purpose and consistency with the justified expectations of the other party.’” Carmichael v. Adirondack Bottled Gas Corp., 161 Vt. 200, 208 (1993). (Quoting Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 205 cmt. a (1981). However, “an action for …breach [of a covenant] is really no different from a tort action, because the duty of good faith is imposed by law and is not a contractual term that the parties are free to bargain in or out as they see fit.” Id.

Whether the claim is for tortious or contractual bad faith, an insured/insurer relationship is still prerequisite to sustain the claim. The overwhelming majority of jurisdiction follow exactly the same rule Vermont does: the duty of good faith and fair dealing “arises solely because of the presence of the insurance contact.” Greene v. Stevens Gas Serv., 177 Vt. 90 (2004).

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