UPC Insurance Company and the Bad Faith “Smoking Gun”

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Is the UPC insurance company taking their sweet time to pay your hurricane IDA insurance claim? The Berniard Law Firm may have uncovered the reason why.

Back Story:

On behalf of our clients, the Berniard Law Firm filed a bad faith insurance claim lawsuit against the United Property and Casualty Insurance Company (UPC) in 2019. The case against UPC involves a homeowners insurance claim.

During the lawsuit, Jeffrey P. Berniard, lead attorney with the Berniard Law Firm, set a 1442 corporate deposition. The 1442 deposition is more commonly known as a corporate deposition, wherein a corporation must nominate an individual to answer questions on their behalf. Typically, before the corporate deposition, documents are produced to the attorney who requested the deposition.

Attorney Jeff Berniard pointed out that the documents he received seemed sorely lacking considering what he usually receives in other insurance claim cases. Jeffrey Berniard has handled hundreds of insurance claims lawsuits over the past sixteen years so he knows what should be produced by an insurance company.

UPC’s counsel followed up by unloading a couple of hundred pages of documents the day before the deposition. This document dump included forms and guidelines UPC uses in the claims process. These guidelines are used by adjusters, managers, or whoever works on an insurance claim for UPC.

Upon reviewing the documents, the Berniard Law firm found two flagrant violations of Louisiana insurance claim law. (1) First, the documents showed that UPC believes there is no law in Louisiana concerning when they are required to begin an investigation into an insurance Claim. You can see selected pages of UPC’s deposition on this link, and below:

Question:        Okay.· So the second one, “Begin Investigation,” it looks like UPC believes it’s the law in Louisiana, duties in Louisiana, they’re silent as to when UPC is to begin an investigation; is that correct?

Answer:          Yes, that is correct.

(2) Second, The documents also showed that UPC doesn’t understand that it is required to pay all claims within 30 days of receipt of proof of loss; see the deposition testimony below:

Question:    … and so UPC’s belief that under Louisiana laws and duties required in Louisiana, they have 60 days after receipt of satisfactory proof of loss from the claimant; to issue a payment; is that correct?

Answer:         Yes

The Insurance Claim Law in Louisiana that helps Protect your Hurricane Ida Insurance Claims:

Louisiana’s insurance claim protection law R.S. 22:1892 could not be more clear that an insurance company shall pay the amount of any claim due any insured within thirty days after receipt of satisfactory proofs of loss from the insured. Not 60 days as UPC taught their adjusters, but 30 days.

If an insurance company goes past the 30-day mark, it can subject them to penalties of 50% of the claim, reasonable attorney fees, and costs. Therefore if UPC or any insurance company fails to pay your claims within 30 days, you could be owed 50% of your claim, along with attorneys and costs associated with forcing the insurance company to comply with the statute.

At the deposition, UPC admitted that all the adjusters, managers, and everyone that works for UPC would go to the documents in question to review timelines for claim-related duties in Louisiana. See testimony below:

Question:      And if they had a question about, you know, the timelines required under a state, is this a document they could look to find out that answer?

Answer:                  Yes

Therefore if any UPC employee was uncertain about the timelines to pay a claim under Louisiana law they were told information that violated the law.

What Happened After the Berniard Law Firm Discovered the Documents?

As soon as the deposition ended, UPC sought a protective order to bury the documents from the public. Not being satisfied with that motion, UPC also filed a motion to seal the record. UPC also filed an “Expedited hearing on Motion for Protective Order,” wherein UPC sought to rush to the Court to make sure the documents would never see the light of day.

The Berniard Law firm fought all of those motions successfully, see the opposition here. The Court would not deny the public’s constitutional access to record as UPC sought. Every policyholder who has made a claim against UPC, the Louisiana Insurance commissioner, and those evaluating which company to procure coverage from will now have access to this information thanks to the Berniard Law firm.

What can you do with this information?

UPC and every insurance company are required by law to pay your claims within 30 days after you present them. If UPC violates that timeline, then hold them accountable for the penalties, attorney fees, and reasonable cost that the law mandates that you shall receive.

If you have any questions about a potential violation from any insurance company, please contact our experienced bad faith insurance claim lawyers at the Berniard law firm on the web or call us at (504) 521-6000.

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