In Oklahoma, Sections 36-1250.1 through 36-1250.16 are collectively known as the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. This Act was added to the Oklahoma Insurance Code in 1986 in order to prevent insurance companies, including auto insurers, from engaging in business practices that are unfair to consumers.
Consumers who buy insurance coverage pay premiums with the expectation that when an auto accident arises, their policies will cover losses they insured against. Insurers often do not live up to their end of the bargain, so the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act imposes restrictions and rules for claims processing. The rules are designed to protect consumers from having to face some of the most common car accident insurance issues that can prevent them from recovering full compensation for losses when collisions happen.
How Oklahoma Law Protects Crash Victims from Car Accident Insurance Issues
Oklahoma’s law is based on the Model Unfair Trade Practices Act, which is a sample law drafted and proposed by the National Association of Insurance Commissions to make it easier for states to regulate insurance company behaviors. The Model Act has been adopted, in whole or in part, throughout the majority of U.S. States. In these states, like in Oklahoma, the laws prohibit insurers from engaging in certain practices considered unfair to consumers including:
- Unreasonable delays in initiating and processing claims.
- Misleading consumers about insurance policy provisions or coverage.
- Denying claims without justification or without a reasonable investigation.
- Asking for repetitive or unnecessary information during claims processing.
- Failure to attempt to settle claims in good faith when liability has reasonable been determined.
- Requesting a release signed by a claimant that extends beyond the matter giving rise to claim payment.
- Issuing partial settlement checks containing language releasing the insurance company from total liability.
- Compensating physicians who are reviewing claims by providing them a percentage of the amount by which their evaluations reduce the need for claim payments.
- Compelling policyholders to initiate litigation in order to recover money due to them under insurance policies.
In Oklahoma, the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act makes clear an insurer’s claim files can be examined by the Insurance Commissioner or by duly appointed designees. Insurance companies are also required to respond to inquiries made by the Commissioner concerning claims and complaints.
Policyholders who have concerns about whether their insurers are violating the law should consider filing a formal complaint with the Commissioner so action can be taken to determine if the insurer is obeying the law. An insurer who fails to obey the rules could face fines or could be prohibited from continuing to provide insurance within the state.
Collision victims who believe insurers are not processing claims as required by law can also contact an experienced car accident attorney for assistance in using available legal tools and protections to take action against the insurer and obtain required compensation and benefits.