Burg Simpson congratulates shareholders Thomas W. Henderson and Brian K. Matise and attorney Nelson Boyle for their great win. On behalf of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, these Burg Simpson attorneys submitted a pro bono “friend of the court” brief in Nibert v. Geico Casualty Co, 2017COA23. With their help, Colorado insurance consumers’ rights are stronger today. In Nibert, the Colorado Court of Appeals reaffirms the rights of Coloradans whose insurance companies treat them in bad faith. The case clarifies a 2008 statute that protects consumers if their insurer unreasonably delays or denies payment of benefits. The statute requires an insurer that acts unreasonably to pay the benefit owed, plus two times the delayed benefit, attorney’s fees, and costs. So an insurance customer could get the entire amount owed under the policy plus twice that amount if an insurer acts unreasonably. The court also holds that a jury cannot be instructed with Geico’s inaccurate theory of the case jury instruction. Insurers cannot escape fault with misstated law by arguing delays in payment of benefits they owe are “fairly debatable.”
This important decision should help hold insurance companies accountable for their promises. It provides a check against the common insurance company tactic of delaying payment as long as possible, paying just before trial, and then claiming, “no harm, no foul” while labeling it as just an “honest” disagreement. Contact Burg Simpson’s Colorado insurance bad faith lawyers if you think your insurer has acted in bad faith.