What Are My Rights as a Car Insurance Policyholder in California?

insurance policyWhen you purchase an insurance policy, you are granted rights as a policyholder. California has more laws to protect insurance policyholders than any other state in the U.S.

Your insurance company must comply with these laws when you file a claim. The purpose of these laws is to help ensure you are treated fairly and not taken advantage of by the insurance company.

If you have been treated unfairly by your car insurance company after filing a claim, the Sacramento car accident lawyers at our firm know your rights and are prepared to help you secure a favorable settlement.

Acting in Good Faith

The representatives of your insurance policy, including the insurance claims adjuster, are legally required to be honest with you about your policy coverage and its limits. They must be accurate about their policies when they are selling them to you and honest during interactions with you after you sign as a policyholder, including claims.

Under California law, insurers are required to conduct a reasonable investigation into your claim and offer a fair settlement that is “in good faith to effectuate a fair, prompt and equitable” amount. California insurers are also not permitted to make an unreasonably low settlement offer that attempts to settle a claim for less than it is worth.

Unfortunately, not all insurers act in good faith. When insurance companies act in “bad faith,” they may be in violation of state law and could face serious consequences. Some insurers assume that policyholders do not know their rights, making it advantageous to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side.

Complete Communication

California insurance companies must provide policyholders with accurate, complete policy-related information. This includes disclosure of deadlines, such as California’s statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.

Insurers in California are also legally obligated to communicate within a reasonable time. This means that an insurance claims adjuster may not ignore phone calls, emails or other forms of communication from a client for no reason. For certain requests, such as a copy of your current policy and policy history, the law states that the insurance company must comply within 15 days of your request.

Your Right to a Fair Claims Process

You have the right to a fair investigation and a fair claims process. The insurance company may not create barriers or unreasonable requirements for filing your claim, such as:

  • An insurer may not ignore evidence provided by you or your attorney, including photos or video of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, or the crash scene; police reports; or witness statements.
  • An insurer may not ask for unreasonable proof of loss, such as secondary proof.
  • An insurer may not require the exclusive use of their forms.
  • An insurer must provide a copy of every claim-related document in your file upon request.

It is important to note that a fair claims process also means the insurance company has the right to receive honest, accurate, and prompt statements from you when you file a claim.

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney for Legal Assistance

Too often, victims of car accidents are offered very small settlements or are taken advantage of in other ways by insurance companies. An experienced attorney can help hold the insurance company accountable and pursue maximum compensation to help you during this difficult time.

Have more questions about your rights? Call us today at (916) 777-7777