State Seeks to Punish Bad-Faith Insurance Practices


In Washington, this year’s election has been fired up by Referendum 67, a law that would allow consumers to collect triple damages if their insurer unreasonably denies a claim or violates rules against unfair practices.

Supporters say the law gives consumers the power they need to punish bad practices that are becoming ever-more-common in the insurance industry, while opponents claim it will lead to even more unfounded lawsuits, ultimately leading to a rise in insurance rates that would hurt consumers.

We have already talked about the insurance industry’s recent profit-taking at the expense of policy-holders.

In the campaign to garner votes on R-67, the industry is trying to use age-old stereotypes of lawyers to conceal its own greed by painting lawyers as dishonest practitioners just seeking a profit.

Partly, the controversy has broken on party lines as Republicans loyal to the industry and Democrats supported by trial lawyers split over the law last year. Now, as the industry is seeking to recall the law, the bitter blood remains. Insurance companies have donated $8 million dollars to try and squash the law, $8 million dollars they hope to make back in double or triple by collecting premiums and denying claims.

Spokeswoman for the organization Approve 67 put the issue in perspective: “This is about bad faith. Nobody should have to hire a lawyer to settle a legitimate claim, period. If they treated people fairly, trial lawyers would be out of a job.”

And it’s clear that she’s right. If all legitimate claims were settled fairly, juries would be more skeptical of suits in court.

No matter how you feel about lawyers, they at least make their living getting money for people suffering from the greed of pharmaceutical companies, medical malpractice, or, in this case, the calculated spurns of insurance companies. If you find yourself fighting an uphill battle to get compensation in any of these cases, contact today to get in touch with a lawyer who can put you on a level field with your adversary.