New Washington insurance law protects consumers from unreasonable claim denials. Insurance companies risk penalties of court costs, attorney fees and treble damages if claims unreasonably denied.
R 67, the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act approved by the voters this Fall is scheduled to take effect December 6, 2007. The new law protects customers who purchase insurance. It is designed to stop insurance companies from using the “Delay, Deny and Defend” strategy. Before the law, no real penalties existed if an insurance company unreasonably denied or delayed payment of a claim. When faced with the “Delay, Deny and Defend” strategy, many consumers simply folded or took substantially less then what was owed. The cost of fighting the insurance company made it impractical to do much else. Faced with having to hire an attorney, incur court costs and wait many months just to get what was due in the first place left many without much of a remedy. The new law makes the insurance company responsible for all court costs and attorney fees. If they don’t treat a customer fairly, a judge can also order the company to pay the consumer up to three times what was due under the policy.