By Thomas M. Bona.
What does it mean to have PMT always on your side? Industry leadership. We are not content to sit on the sidelines. PMT speaks up about current issues and trends affecting our industry and advocates to advance the insurance industry’s interests. Whether Jeffrey Miller is sharing how our industry can help relieve court backlogs by aggressively mediating cases during and after the Pandemic or Marc Pillinger alerting our industry to the danger of proposed “progressive” bad faith legislation, PMT will always take a leadership position in our industry.
“In danger ahead: the potential effects of progressive legislation on bad faith claims in New York,” Marc H. Pillinger discusses the recent trend which allows plaintiffs to have a direct cause of action against insurance companies for alleged bad faith handling of claims. In New York, two bills are pending which would allow plaintiffs to have a direct cause of action against carriers and enable them to recover damages for alleged bad faith in settling claims. In his opinion, plaintiffs’ lawyers will seek to use the new laws, if enacted, as a cudgel to force insurance carriers to pay claims and or settle litigation that is defensible on the merits. According to Marc Pillinger, the best way to achieve prompt and fair settlements for both sides is for insurance companies and their attorneys to negotiate fairly and settle cases aggressively. Most insurers do not need a bad-faith lawsuit to pay claims in good faith. The problem with the proposed bills in New York is that they take a blunderbuss approach to a surgical problem. Bad faith lawsuits are a threat that the plaintiff’s bar wants to use to gain an unwarranted advantage over insurance carriers. They are the sword of Damocles hanging over a carrier’s head. Forcing insurance companies to write insurance in an even more unfriendly business environment in New York may cause them to stop writing insurance here at all and to write more policies in pro-carrier states. And if they do continue to offer insurance policies, the cost will go up to reflect the increased risk. If the purpose of the bad faith legislation is to punish insurance companies based upon past bad experiences, it may accomplish that. If, on the other hand, the objective of the bad faith legislation is to encourage prompt and fair settlements, then it will achieve nothing.
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