Mother, Don't Let Your Child Become an Adjuster in Washington State: Statute Makes Individual Adjuster Liable for Tort of Bad Faith.

Author:Zalma, Barry
Position:[ON MY RADAR]
 
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* The state of Washington, in an attempt to protect consumers, has acted in a way to drive insurers and their employed adjusters out of the state. This case makes it financially dangerous to be an insurance adjuster in Washington state. I have railed against the tort of bad faith on this blog for several years and the case that follows proves why it should be done away with even if the insured was treated badly.

In Moun Keodalah and Aung Keodalah, husband and wife v. Allstate Insurance Company, a corporation, and Tracey Smith and John Doe Smith, wife and husband, No. 75731-8-1, Court Of Appeals Of The State Of Washington Division One (March 26, 2018) the Court of Appeals found that an adjuster could be personally liable for tort damages incurred by an insured as a result of what the state found to be bad faith conduct.

Moun Keodalah, unhappy with Allstate's treatment of his uninsured motorist claim, sued Allstate and Tracey Smith, the Allstate insurance adjustor who handled his claim. Washington state statute RCW 48.01.030 imposes a duty of good faith on all persons engaged in the business of insurance, including individual adjusters.

FACTS

Keodalah and a motorcyclist collided in April 2007. After Keodalah stopped at a stop sign and began to cross the street in his truck, a motorcyclist struck him. The collision killed the motorcyclist and injured Keodalah. Keodalah had purchased auto insurance from Allstate Insurance Company. Keodalahs insurance policy provided underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The motorcyclist was uninsured.

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) determined the motorcyclist was traveling between 70 and 74 m.p.h. in a 30 m.p.h. zone. SPD reviewed Keodalahs cell phone records. They showed that Keodalah was not using his cell phone at the time of the collision.

Allstate also investigated the collision. Allstate interviewed several witnesses who said the motorcyclist was traveling faster than the speed limit, had proceeded between cars in both lanes, and had "cheated" at the intersection. Allstate hired an accident reconstruction firm, Traffic Collision Analysis, Inc. (TCA), to analyze the collision. TCA found that Keodalah stopped at the stop sign, the motorcyclist was traveling at a minimum of 60 m.p.h., and the motorcyclists "'excessive speed"' caused the collision.

Keodalah asked Allstate to pay him the limit of his UIM policy, $25,000. But Allstate refused. Keodalah sued Allstate, asserting a UIM claim. Allstate...

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