Insurance Company’s Duty to Reasonably Investigate Claims Under Washington law

The Washington State Association for Justice recently published McKean Evans’ article regarding insurers’ duty to reasonably investigate claims. The article, entitled Insurance Company’s Duty to Reasonably Investigate Your Client’s Claim a Powerful Tool for Making Client Whole, discusses the legal basis for insurers’ duty to reasonably investigate claims. Evans discusses how insurers’ breach of this duty is actionable and can be used to rebut typical insurer defense strategies in insurance bad faith litigation.

Among other things, the article explores:

  • How an insurer’s breach of its duty to investigate establishes liability in an insurance bad faith action;
  • The Washington Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Coventry Assocs. v. Am. States Ins. Co., 136 Wn. 2d 269, 276, 961 P.2d 933, 935 (1998), establishing that the duty to reasonably investigate claims is a fundamental part of the benefit the policyholder receives in exchange for their premiums;
  • How the duty to reasonably investigate requires an insurer to base its coverage decisions on “adequate information” and not “overemphasize its own interests;” consider new information the insured provides in response to the insurer’s denial of her claim; and reasonably consider a policyholder’s final coverage demand under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act;
  • Facts to look for in investigating an insurer’s bad faith that would help prove the insurer failed to reasonably investigate the claim.