Hawaii Supreme Court: The Insurer’s Good Faith Claim Handling Duty Begins Before the Formal Claim Submission
The Supreme Court of Hawai’i’s recent opinion restated two important points of Hawai’i bad faith law: (1) the insurer’s good faith claim handling duty begins with the first communication with the insured, even before the formal claim submission and (2) the insurer’s compliance with the terms of the insurance contract can be insufficient to avoid bad faith liability. Therefore, in order to defeat a bad faith claim under Hawai’i law, the insurer must at all times act in good faith before and after the claim submission. The court restated this duty when reversing a summary judgment for a health insurer. Although it complied with the terms of the insurance contract following receipt of the formal claim, it arguably misled its insured in discussions prior to the claim.