The Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA), which was a voter approved initiative, took effect on Dec. 6, 2007. The law made it illegal for insurance companies to “unreasonably deny an insurance claim or violate laws that govern unfair claims-settlement practices.” Practically, this means that insurance companies must acknowledge policyholders’ letters and phone calls about their claims, promptly investigate claims and approve legitimate claims. See all the laws and IFCA rules here: https://www.insurance.wa.gov/insurance-fair-conduct-act-ifca-laws-and-rules
If your insurance company unreasonably denied your claim for coverage or payment of benefits or violated other regulations around the claims-settlement process; you may be able to seek punitive damages in court. Contact a personal injury lawyer familiar with IFCA in Washington State for a free assessment of your grievance.
Who can use the IFCA?
The IFCA can only be used by policyholders who had attempted to make a claim with their own insurance company; it cannot be used for claims made with another person’s insurance company.
Note that the IFCA does not apply to health insurance companies but will apply to other types of insurance policies that cover medical expenses such as automobile and homeowners insurance. The Patient Bill of Rights protects health insurance policyholders.
How to file an IFCA claim
The only way to make an IFCA claim in a lawsuit is to comply with the statute’s stated requirement to give the insurance company 20 days written notice.
Use the following checklist to ensure that your notice is filed correctly:
- Click here for the Washington Insurance Commissioner’s Q&A about how to file a 20-day Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) notice of potential lawsuit.
- The notice must be written.
- The notice must make clear the cause of the action.
- The notice must be sent to both the insurance company and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
- The notice must be sent by registered, regular or certified mail with return receipt requested.
- Proof of notice by mail may be made in the same way as approved by court rule or statute for proof of service by mail.
Understand that a claimant can only bring an IFCA claim in court if the insurance company fails to resolve the cause of the action within the 20-day period after written notice. The insurer is allowed three days to receive the notice by mail so they have at least 23 days to resolve the policyholder’s complaint.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!