McGowan & Associates recently represented a property owner who had storm damage to her dwelling. Her insurance company denied her claim, and her first two attorneys were unable to find coverage for her over a three-year span. The language of the insurance policy required that all claims be brought within two years, and her prior counsel did not timely file suit, and suggested to her that she was without any viable options. She then brought her file to us.
Her insurance company said that it was too late to advance claims, but our research uncovered mistakes in the claim handling process and we communicated that the insurer had not conducted a reasonable investigation as is required by law. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations is four years for any consumer protection action including insurance actions. We therefore advanced claims in the Superior Court pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 93A §9 and ch. 176D §3(9), for the insurer’s bad faith and unfair and deceptive insurance claim settlement practices. The insurer quickly settled to avoid the mistakes that were made being exposed, and a judgment in our client’s favor.
If you have a property claims with your insurance company, it is important to have counsel that understand the timeframe within which a suit may be brought, as insurance policies often limit claims to a two years window. However, even if contractual claims are barred by the insurance policy, conduct prohibited in G.L. ch. 176D is not merely “duplicative” of ordinary breach of contract claims based on the insurance policy. To the contrary, when an insurance company engages in the conduct that is proscribed by G. L. ch. 176D, and is made unfair and deceptive by G. L. c. 93A, §9, that creates a cause of action that lies entirely independent from the contract (or restrictions therein).
When property damage occurs, it is important to understand your rights under and outside of an insurance contract and McGowan & Associates is available to assist South Shore residents who need guidance in the property damage claims process. Read more about our work representing clients in insurance bad faith and insurance coverage disputes on the South Shore and across Massachusetts.