A woman whose house burned down at Christmastime 2009 has won a $784,000 jury verdict against her homeowner's insurer. The verdict included an 18 percent penalty because the jury found the insurer acted in bad faith in failing to pay the claim.
• Jury finds insurer acted in bad faith by claiming arson in Christmas fire
• Bad faith laws protect consumers from stonewalling and excess judgments
• Whether a state is liberal or conservative often determines its bad faith insurance laws
The jingle goes, "Nationwide is on your side." Nationwide was not on the side of its insured, Norma O'Neal, when her house went up in flames two weeks before Christmas. She said a string of Christmas tree lights that was loosely plugged into a receptacle set fire to her Christmas tree. Nationwide called the fire arson. With that, they strung her along for almost two years, leaving her out of house and definitely not "home for the holidays."
With Christmas bearing down on us again it seems appropriate to consider how to have a safe holiday season, and how to deal with your insurance company if an accident occurs.
"That's a horrible case of first party insurance bad faith," says Tom Simeone, a personal injury and insurance practitioner in the Washington, DC region. Simeone's also an Adjunct Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School, where he teaches trial advocacy.
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