Florida Court Takes on Insurer's Stalling Tactics in Uninsured Motorist Case - Safeco Insurance Company v. Rader
Despite what they may tell you, auto insurance companies don't always have your best interests in mind. In fact, many will go to great lengths to try to avoid or limit claims that are perfectly reasonable and clearly covered under the applicable policy. That includes clogging up the legal process with a wide variety of stalling tactics, technical disputes and appeals. In Safeco Insurance Company v. Rader, Florida's First District Court of Appeals takes a look at one insurer's attempt to limit liability by trying to force an insured driver to file claims for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits and bad faith separately.
Mr. Rader was injured in a car accident with a third party and later sought coverage from his insurer, Safeco, for UM benefits. Rader said his damages exceeded the $25,000 available under the other driver's insurance company and therefore sought the coverage available for UM benefits under his policy. He then sued the company, alleging that it failed to offer him the full amount of the coverage available. Safeco later tendered Rader the full $100,000 of UM coverage made available under his policy. The company subsequently responded to Rader's complaint by arguing that the payment represented a "confession of judgment as a matter of law" and that the trial court should simply close the case by entering judgment for Rader for the $100,000 he already received.
Rader, on the other hand, sought to amend his complaint to include a separate claim for bad faith against Safeco. The trial court denied Safeco's claim for judgment on the pleadings in the case, in which the company asserted that the bad faith claim was premature until there was a final ruling on Rader's UM claim. Instead, the trial judge granted Rader's motion to amend his complaint and said the parties could resolve the UM claim by either entering a stipulation to that effect or by Safeco accepting the judgment against it.