By Anders Blewett
The Supreme Court of Montana handed down a major victory to Montana accident victims and insurance consumers by curtailing a common defense used by insurance companies to deny legitimate insurance claims.
Under Montana law insurance companies are required to attempt to make a “prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim in which liability was reasonably clear.” Insurance companies frequently deny the claims of those injured in accidents, arguing that liability was not “reasonably clear.” The Court restricted this unfair claims handling practice by clarifying that insurance companies must attempt to pay claims when their client is at least 50% liable. While insurance companies will continue to put profits over injured people in Montana, the playing field is now more level thanks to the Court’s ruling in Peterson vs. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company. 2010 MT 187. Click here to review the opinion.