In an issue of first impression, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for Allstate and held that the two-year statute of limitations for bad faith claims arising out of an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim begins to run when the claimant should have known about the insurer’s alleged bad faith acts, rather than when the claim is resolved. In Marinelarena v. Allstate Northbrook Indem. Co., 2023 WL 3033498 (9th Cir. 2023), the plaintiff alleged that she suffered injuries in a 2016 car accident with a hit and run driver. Two years later, in January 2018, Marinelarena made a policy limit demand for uninsured motorist benefits. Allstate declined the demand and insisted on taking steps to further investigate the claim. Eventually, because the parties could not agree on the value of the claim, they proceeded to uninsured motorist or UM arbitration, after which the arbitrator issued an award in Marinelarena’s favor. Allstate immediately paid the award.
Over the past 10 years, policy limit settlement demands with myriad conditions have become the norm. In many instances, the conditions are imposed in the hope that the insurer will falter in its efforts to comply. Unless there was strict compliance with every condition, the claimants argued, the demand was rejected and the policy was “open.” Recently, however, California courts have begun to recognize common-sense limitations to these “gotcha” tactics. In 2021, Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 61 Cal. App. 5th 676 (2021) clarified that to be liable for a bad faith failure to settle, the insurer must have acted unreasonably. In Palma v. Mercury Ins. Co., 2022 WL 3592722, issued on August 23, 2022, the Court of Appeal expressed its distaste for gamesmanship that is designed to prevent a settlement that an insurer is attempting to consummate.…
Medina v. GEICO Indemnity Company, 8 Cal.App.5th 251 (2017)
Leigh Anne Flores worked for Pacific Bell. While driving a Pacific Bell van, she hit another car driven by Javier Medina. Pacific Bell furnished the van to Flores for work, but Flores also used it for personal use without any express objection or restriction by Pacific Bell. At the time she struck Medina, Flores was on a personal errand during work hours.
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