“No one does,” says Michael J. Bidart, senior and managing partner of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP. “You get insurance because you have to. You fill out the paperwork, send in your money and then they send you a policy. You put it away and pray to God that you never have to use it.”
When most people purchase a product, they intend to consume it or obtain some benefit from it. But the opposite is true for insurance. Bidart believes that no industry exists where the playing field is more uneven for consumers than in the world of insurance.
“Insurance companies have all the resources, they draft the policies the way they want them and give them to consumers on a take-it-or-leave-it basis,” he says.
Insurance is supposed to give you peace of mind that you will be protected when things go wrong—but sometimes the unthinkable happens.
A mother was horrified to find out that her son, a Little League coach, abused a minor in her home when she was not present. As if the revelation of the allegations wasn’t devastating enough, counsel for the plaintiff argued that the acts occurred as a result of woman’s negligent supervision.
The woman’s homeowner’s insurance included liability coverage to defend her for personal injury or property damages arising from occurrences at her home, but the company denied her coverage in relation to the case. Bidart represented the woman in court.
The court opined that the mother would have reasonably expected her insurance policy to cover her separately for her independent acts or omissions causing injury or damage. The insurance company had to honor the policy that the woman purchased.
“We prevailed for the mother who was the insured; she didn’t have anything to do with the harming of the child,” Bidart says. “Lack of insurance coverage for something like this deprives innocent victims of a source of recovery.”
William M. Shernoff, the founding senior partner of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria is known as the “pioneer” of bad faith law. A bulk of his practice involves rescission cases in which insurers cancel policyholders’ coverage after they become injured, sick or hospitalized.
One day after a woman underwent a gallbladder surgery, she had to return to the hospital due to a collapsed lung. The woman’s insurance provider rescinded her policy and refused to pay her medical bills, saying that she did not provide complete and accurate information on her application. Shernoff represented the woman in her complaint against the insurance company. The court ruled that the insurance company failed to conduct a reasonable underwriting investigation and was still obligated to honor her policy.
“If they rescind the policy, the companies get out of paying not only those bills, but also ongoing treatment the policyholder may need,” Shernoff says.
He has achieved positive results for his clients in cases involving bad faith health and insurance cases, and now “junk” insurance cases, in which consumers purchase what they believe to be comprehensive health insurance, but is really just a bare bones policy. In addition, Shernoff has tackled cases involving insurance companies that overrule treating physicians’ decisions regarding necessary medical procedures.
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Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.