Feel like your insurance adjuster is giving you the run around? Feel like the adjuster is being untruthful? Pretty certain the adjuster does not have your best interests at heart, despite the fact that it keeps promising that you are “in good hands” and they are “on your side.” Based on a recent Vermont Supreme Court opinion, it is now clear that insurance adjusters, unlike attorneys, owe injury claimants no duty to handle the claim in a reasonable manner.
All attorneys are held to a very high standard to be truthful, zealously advocate, maintain frequent contact, and diligently represent its clients. If attorneys make a mistake, they are responsible for making it right. But not insurance adjusters. Who would you rather trust?
“The majority rule on negligence of individual claim adjusters is that they do not owe a general duty of care to the insured, and therefore cannot be held liable to the insured for negligence as a matter of law.” Silon v. American Home Assur., 2009 WL 1090700 at *2 (D. Nev. April 21, 2009). At least 13 jurisdictions have developed case law where courts have found that insurance adjusters do not owe independent duties to policyholders. These include Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont.
This isn’t the first time Vermont has ruled this way. Previously it rejected claims of adjuster negligence in Hamill v. Pawtucket Mut. Ins. Co., 179 Vt. 250, 892 A.2d 226 (2005). While attorneys owe a fiduciary duty to their clients, insurance adjusters have only entered into a contract with their insurer and, therefore, only has to act in good faith or else it will have broken the promise in the contract. Big deal – insurance companies break promises all of the time – that’s why they get sued so frequently.
What does this mean for you? Do not try to handle your claim on your own because insurance companies have no obligation to act in your best interests. However, have an attorney on your side from Jason Stone Injury Lawyers fighting for you will provide the peace of mind necessary to ensure that you will get paid for everything that you are going through.