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Did Your Insurer Deal with You in Bad Faith?

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Los Angeles, CABad things happen to good people, right? Absolutely. And sometimes those bad things involve making an insurance claim so you can put things right again.

“That’s why I have a job,” says attorney Denise Hsu Sze with a warm and engaging smile as we sit down to talk at a legal conference in Las Vegas. She’s a long-time lawyer with a national firm that is focused entirely on helping people deal with bad faith insurance companies.

“At the Merlin Law Group we are essentially the policyholder’s advocate,” she says.
“If there’s an insurance policy, and the policyholder isn’t getting what they should get, well, that’s where we come in.”

Recently, a California family had just completed a multimillion-dollar renovation on their home. Just days before they were going to move in, an instant hot water heater malfunctioned. The house was completely flooded with water heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The house looked like it was on fire, but it was steam, not smoke, that was escaping from the house.

The damage was enormous. It was like the house was boiled lobster.

The property had $1.4 million in insurance attached to it but the insurer was offering to pay only $200,000.

Obviously, that was not enough for Hsu Sze’s clients.

Given that the insurance company had declined to pay the full amount, there was clearly a case to be made that the company was acting in “bad faith.”

“If an insurance company does not adjust in good faith, and has not followed general claims practice guides for insurance, and we can show what they have done wrong and what the consequences are, then we can take them to court,” says Hsu Sze.

“That then gives us an opportunity to claim damages above and beyond the policy limits,” she explains.

“Insurance law is complex and involved,” says Hsu Sze. “You really need people on your side that know the ‘ins and outs’ of this area of the law when you are dealing with difficult situations and difficult insurance companies.

“I think there are insurance companies out there and adjusters out there that strive to do the right thing,” says Hsu Sze. “There are times when I have turned away cases when I have looked at the adjusting and said you know what - they did the right thing.

“However, they are in the business of making money, and sometimes they will try not to pay out when they should have,” she says.

“The majority of the time, when a policyholder is upset and they come to me looking for help, it is because something has gone horribly wrong,” says Hsu Sze. “That happens a lot, and as I said, that’s why I have a job.”

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

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I have a commercial insurance policy on a semi truck, and had a wreck. The insurance company emailed me a refusal to pay for the accident cleanup of spilled cargo when the policy clearly states they will pay to tow the spilled load to a safe location. Because of this, the towing company will not release my truck from the impound yard to be repaired so I can provide for my family. They were supposed to have the truck out of impound by Friday and when I called to check on it, they claimed they never received the email with the tow bill to be paid and it will be Monday or Tuesday now before they can get this paid. The insurance agent sold me a bad policy stating on the original quote they would cover coils, and I found out through this accident they won't cover aluminium which was never stated on the original quote (according to the verbal comment made to me by the agent) but the policy they sent out after I paid for it. The agent claims these "facts" about coverage were not listed on the original quote, throwing the blame on the insurance company, however he has became nearly impossible to reach by phone, email or text. I'm being forced into bankruptcy and my wife has nearly had a nervous breakdown and been in the bed sick because of this. Can you help me???

Posted by

on
In reading my insurance policies, I notice that every one of them include an arbitration clause as the means of settling disputes. They also require that I pay their legal expenses if I circumvent that process. How do you fight that?

Posted by

on
I wonder if these attorneys represent people who have been treated in bad faith by workers comp/L&I for self insured companies who hire firms such as Sedgwick. This particular firm is one of the worst at treating people in bad faith and breaking the at every chance they can. I know because I have been fighting them now for 7 years and have yet to find anyone who is willing to stand up for what is right and what my rights are. Anyone know if there is a lawyer out there who isn't afraid to go up against them and the giant companies who employ them? I would love to hear from someone who would.

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