Colorado Court of Appeals Opinion in Hansen v. American Family A Big Win for Consumer Rights Against Insurance Companies who Unreasonably Delay or Deny Payment of Benefits Owed
Today, the Colorado Court of Appeals decided the case of Hansen v. American Family, 2013 COA 173. Burg Simpson attorney Nelson P. Boyle represented Jennifer Hansen, who fought back against an insurance company that attempted to avoid paying what it owed to her under Colorado law. Ms. Hansen won a significant and important victory for all Colorado consumers against insurance companies who unreasonably delay or deny the payment of benefits.
The Court of Appeals Opinion held that under Colorado’s insurance bad faith statute, if a jury finds that an insurer unreasonably delays or denies payment of insurance benefits, the insured consumer is entitled to an award of two times the benefit unreasonably delayed or denied, plus the benefit itself, even if the jury awarded no damages at trial. The Court also rejected the insurance company’s attempts to restrict or limit the statute beyond its express terms.
“In Colorado, an insurance company must pay the claims of people it insures without unreasonable delay or denial of the claim. When it violates that rule, the insurer must pay a statutory penalty. Before this law was passed, insurance companies had very little incentive to pay claims promptly,” explains attorney Nelson P. Boyle of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C., “but as today’s opinion in Hansen affirmed, they do now.”
“For several years, insurers and claimants have litigated over the size of that statutory penalty, and we expect that battle will continue. But for now, we are very happy for our client, Ms. Hansen, and humbled by the Court’s well-reasoned opinion on this important issue of consumer rights. It has been my great privilege to represent Ms. Hansen on appeal after John Trueax, Sam Livingston, and Andrew Newcomb tried this case to a verdict,” Boyle explained.
Burg Simpson is honored to fight every day and remain vigilant for consumer rights, including statutory insurance bad faith rights, which the Colorado Court of Appeals strengthened in Hansen earlier today.