APRIL 2018 BAD FAITH CASES: NO BAD FAITH WHERE INSURER HAD REASONABLE BASIS FOR INITIAL SETTLEMENT OFFERS (Philadelphia Common Pleas affirmed by Pennsylvania Superior Court)
The insured submitted a UIM claim to insurer following an auto accident. After an initial review of the evidence on the accident, and the insured’s medical records, the insurer offered $15,000 to settle the claim. Insurer later increased its offer to $20,000 then $25,000. The insurer’s final valuation was $28,000, but the insurer did not contact the insured about the final increased valuation because the insured unambiguously stated he would not settle for less than $50,000.
An arbitration panel awarded the insured $45,000, and he sued for bad faith. The insured argued the insurer acted in bad faith because its final settlement offer was only about 50% of the arbitration award, and because the insurer failed to notify him of the last increased $28,000 valuation.
The trial court awarded summary judgment to the insurer, holding these facts insufficient to prove the insurer’s offers lacked a reasonable basis. The court found the insurer’s “offers were not arbitrary low-ball offers but rather were the result of a considered analysis of the relevant information regarding [the] claim.”
In an unpublished decision, the Superior Court affirmed on the basis of the trial court’s well-reasoned opinion.
Dates of Decision: August 17, 2017 and April 4, 2018