MARCH 2014 BAD FAITH CASES: CLAIMS THAT AN INSURER ACTED UNREASONABLY DO NOT SET OUT A BAD FAITH CLAIM ON THE FACE OF THE CLAIM, BUT CFA CLAIM ALLOWED TO PROCEED (New Jersey Federal)
In Beekman v. Excelsior Ins. Co., another Superstorm Sandy case, the plaintiff’s asserted that the insurer defendants improperly adjusted his loss claim. His pleaded that this amounted to a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. It is true that under New Jersey law, a duty of good faith and fair dealing is implicit in every contract of insurance; however, a claiming its breach “’must provide evidence sufficient to support a conclusion that the party alleged to have acted in bad faith has engaged in some conduct that denied the benefit of the bargain originally intended by the parties.’”
The plaintiff’s allegations were couched in terms of what was, or was not, “reasonable” on the part of the Defendant insurers. However, claims insurers acted unreasonably are insufficient alone to support a finding that Defendants breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and that claim was dismissed.
Following Third Circuit precedent, however, the Court did allow the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act claim to stand, and that this statute could be applied to insurance claims.