Bad Faith and Beyond: A Conference on the Law of Claims Practices

The ultimate test of an insurance policy comes when a claim is filed. An effective and fair process for investigating, evaluating, paying, and defending claims is at the core of the relationship between an insurer and a policyholder. This conference sponsored by the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility on February 29, 2012, brought together legal academics, other scholars who study claim practices and their regulation, and practitioners to explore the present and future of the regulation of insurance claim practices.

In both first-party and third-party insurance, when claims are not paid or settlements not reached, disputes inevitably arise about whether the company has adhered to appropriate standards of claim practices.  In many jurisdictions, those disputes are governed by the law of insurance bad faith, defined by statute or common law and framed as breach of contract, tort, or other wrong. State regulators also provide frameworks for resolving the disputes, and market considerations have a role to play as well.

The law of claim practices is a source of controversy. Policyholder advocates argue that unfair claim practices are widespread and that the remedies for them are inadequate. Insurance companies respond that claim practices are generally appropriate but excessive bad faith litigation imposes too heavy a burden on companies and ultimately policyholders. Several jurisdictions recently have enacted statutes regulating claim practices and legislation is being considered in other states. Judicial decisions have both broadened and narrowed the law of bad faith.

Theoretical Approaches to Bad Faith

Kenneth S. Abraham—University of Virginia School of Law 

Robert Jerry—University of Florida Levin College of Law 

The Law of Claims Practices

Jay Feinman—Rutgers Law School

Thomas F. Segalla—Goldberg Segalla LLP 

Douglas R. Richmond—AON Risk Services

Amy Bach—United Policyholders

Empirical Perspectives on Claims Practices Regulation

Mark Browne—University of Wisconsin School of Business

Sharon Tennyson—Cornell University College of Human Ecology

 Peter Siegelman—University of Connecticut School of Law 

Concluding Remarks

Tom Baker—University of Pennsylvania School of Law