Bad Faith Underinsured Motorist Claim Requires at Least SOME Bad Faith (PA)
In a recent Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania case, Bond v. Geico, the court dismissed an underinsured motorist claim against the insurer where the policyholder brought vague, unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations of bad faith in the claim handling.
Plaintiff in the case was an underinsured motorist under Pennsylvania statute who sought underinsured coverage from Geico (his own UIM insurer). The Insurer initially offered $10,000, then after the plaintiff retained counsel and pursued his claim, he ultimately received $50,000 in UIM benefits. Plaintiff then brought suit against Geico for $1,000,000 claiming the carrier failed to provide “reasonable coverage,” seeking bad faith damages along with the policy limits.
In dismissing Plaintiff’s pro se complaint, the Court noted that rather than require detailed pleadings, the “Rules demand only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]” Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786 (3d Cir. 2016). As such, the court requires specific averments in order to sustain a complaint. Here, the Court found that the plaintiff did not provide enough information regarding identification of the actual policy limits in the complaint. Further, Plaintiff did not provide the court enough information to even show a basis that the policy limits were 1,000,000. Additionally, while a cause of action may be brought by insured parties against their insurer for bad faith. See 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8371, the plaintiff did not allege adequate facts to sustain a claim that the insurer acted improperly here.
While the Court would permit the policyholder to amend his complaint, at least this it did in fact require the plaintiff to specifically plead allegations of bad faith, rather than mere conclusory statements.
Thanks to Kevin Riley for his contribution to this post. Should you have any questions, please contact Thomas Bracken.