It isn’t every day you need to deal with your insurance company. If you are lucky, you never do. But because it isn’t an everyday occurrence, most people believe what they hear on TV and in advertising. State Farm is a “good neighbor.” With Allstate, you are “in good hands.”
The truth is, these insurance companies make money by not paying claims. They make money by holding onto your premiums. As a result, the claims process can be anything but good. And candidly, it can get downright deceptive and manipulative. So we wanted you to be aware of the latest trend we are seeing in Pennsylvania.
In PA, unlike the sister state of New Jersey, in most situations, there is a strict adherence to the suit limitation provision. Generally, property owners have either one year or two years from the date of loss to file suit, although there are limited exceptions when the carrier acts in bad faith or refuses to adhere to its contractual duties under the policy. It feels like that should be plenty of time, right? Wrong. I am not the first to write about delay tactics by insurance companies. There is a great book out there, Delay, Deny, Defend by Jay Feinman, that anyone in the industry should read.
But now, insurance companies like State Farm are taking it even further. See, in Pennsylvania, if you are getting close to that 1-year statute of limitations (or more technically, suit limitation), then you can file a Writ of Summons which stops the clock. The claim can continue to be worked on and adjusted, but you don’t have to worry about missing your one year mark. But now, Insurance companies are using the filing of that Writ to get subpoena power that they didn’t have before. This means that the carrier is now trying to subpoena contractors, public adjusters, utility companies, you name it. And they only got that power because of their delay.
This conduct by the carrier is simply unacceptable. So what can you do? We are here to help.
First, before the suit limitation is up, whether it be one or two years, send a letter or an email to your insurance company asking for an extension of the suit limitation period. Yes, they can give it to you. No, there is no basis in the policy or law that says they can’t give you that extension.
If the carrier says no, put it in writing and ask, “What reasonable basis do you have to not provide an extension of the suit limitation period? If this is not extended, I will be forced to incur the cost of obtaining an attorney just to stop the clock while this claim is continuing to be adjusted.”
If and when they still say no, contact me. We will help you file the writ, and we will be there to assist you after the claim is resolved to pursue the insurance company for attorney’s fees for its bad faith conduct. An insurance company cannot act unreasonably and know that it is doing so. That is known as bad faith. And when they force you to get an attorney to stop a clock that the insurance company has control over, that is unreasonable.
We are here to help you. We are here to make sure you are not bullied by these monolith companies. Call us and we can help.