Imagine this horrible scenario:
You are operating your own car in New York and are hit by a car that runs a red light or disregards a stop sign. You have severe permanent injuries including a fracture to your leg which requires surgical intervention. The car that hits you carries, the New York minimum, $25,000 in liability coverage. Your injuries are so severe that you miss work and will never be able to use your leg the same again. You look at your own auto policy and realize that you had been smart and purchased an insurance policy that would precisely fix this miscarriage of justice. You have paid your insurance company, GEICO, additional premium year after year in order to carry liability and Underinsurance Coverage of $100,000.00. You retain counsel who goes and fights for the tortfeasor’s insurance to pay you. They do after protracted litigation. The next step, you assume, getting GEICO, the company you have paid premiums to for years for this added protection, will be resolved quickly and they will compensate you with a payment of the full $75,000.00. It would be $75,000.00 because, under the present law of New York you get to recover the difference between your Underinsurance coverage and the tortfeasor’s liability policy hence $100,000- 25,000.00= $75,000.00.
Yet, GEICO, decides that even though they have no legal defense to your claim, and even though your injuries are both serious and permanent; that you don’t deserve the additional $75,000.00. Why??? JUST BECAUSE WE, AT GEICO, LIKE TO COLLECT YOUR PREMIUM’S AND NOT PAY YOU EVEN THOUGH WE ARE LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO DO SO.
Sadly, this happens every day for many people of New York. People who are driving around believing that they have purchased insurance, that when needed, will be there for them. Whether it’s Allstate, State Farm, or other’s; New York Law has no “bad faith” which would hold your own insurance companies liable for such terrible business practices.
They can simply refuse to pay, require you to file for arbitration or to litigate the matter taking years and just hope that the fact finder will determine you should get less. Even if the arbitrator/mediator determines you get more, you are still limited to the limits of your insurance with no penalty to the carrier that has collected and held your money and refused to compensate you for years and years.
At Leav & Steinberg, LLP, we have fought for our clients and have successfully arbitrated and litigated many cases against insurance companies in order to ensure that our clients’ receive a full and complete recovery, even if it means fighting for every last dollar that they are legally entitled to.