A Service of Barry Zalma, Inc.


Consultation, Expert Witness, Arbitration & Mediation Services For Insurance Disputes

  • The tort of Bad Faith

  • Bad Faith Avoidance

  • Insurance Claims Handling

  • Insurance Bad Faith

  • Compliance with Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations

  • Insurance Policy Wording and Interpretation

  • Insurance Fraud Investigation and Litigation

  • Insurance Coverage

  • Presentation of Insurance Claims

  • Defense of Insurance Claims

  • Insurance Education & Training

Expert & Consultant For Any Insurance Dispute

Zalma Insurance Consultants (ZIC) brings Barry Zalma's more than 45 years of practical claims experience to any insurance dispute, problem or lawsuit. ZIC will help you resolve every insurance problem faced by you or your clients. The experience and skill of ZIC's consultant and expert witness can make the difference before a jury or other trier of fact. ZIC will consult with you on any one or more of the following issues that are important to those in the business of insurance and their counsel:

  •     The Tort of Bad Faith

  •     Bad Faith Avoidance

  •    Coverage Problems

  •     Claims Handling

  •     Good Faith

  •     Claims Auditing

  •     Genuine Dispute

  •     Insurance Fraud & SIU Investigations

  •     Training and Education

  •     Mediation or Arbitration

How to Avoid Charges of Bad Faith

Almost every lawsuit filed against an insurance company, especially when a claim is denied, alleges that the insurer acted in bad faith. In the first party context, bad faith claims typically allege that the insurer did not have a reasonable basis to deny coverage, and that the insurer engaged in unfair or deceptive conduct in the process of handling the claim and reaching its conclusions regarding coverage. In the third party context, there is typically an allegation that the insurer failed to timely settle a claim in which liability had become reasonably clear. Insurers, with unfounded courage, deny claims based on the recommendations of a claims handler whose experience may be, and usually is, limited.

The Use of an Insurance Expert

When involved in litigation concerning an insurance claim an expert qualified to testify concerning the custom and practice of insurers is necessary to proving the claim of the policyholder or the defense of the insurer concerning:

  •     Claim handling practices.

  •     Minimum Claims Investigation standards.

  •     Insurance policy interpretation.

  •     Insurance fraud investigation.

  •     Insurance policy interpretation.

  •     Compliance with Fair Claims Settlement Practices Statutes.

  •     Compliance with Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations.

In California, and other states, an expert must have some first hand experience in insurance and insurance claims handling to qualify to present testimony. Once qualified the expert is able to credibly explain to a trier of fact, in easy to understand language, that the party seeking to prove bad faith or a defense to a claim of bad faith, in a manner that can create a favorable result at trial. A qualified insurance claims handling expert can explain why or why not the insurer reasonably, prudently and in good faith should reject or accept an insured's claim. The testimony of the expert can defuse, if not eliminate, the plaintiff insured's allegations of bad faith. A qualified expert, if the facts warrant, can competently show that an insurer failed to fulfill the custom and practice of insurers in the jurisdiction.

Many legal decisions definitively hold that an insurer's reliance on an expert in making a coverage determination or deciding a third party claim, will defeat a bad faith claim. Insurers who take advantage of the “genuine dispute” doctrine or “fairly debatable” doctrine to protect itself from charges of bad faith will save countless indemnity and defense dollars.

When an insurer is faced with a complex, difficult or fraudulent claim that it believes should be denied, the insurer should provide a complete copy of the file materials to ZIC. If retained before the claim is denied the expert should be asked for his or her advice on how to resolve the claim. The expert should never be told the insurer’s position so that Mr. Zalma can provide an unbiased opinion.

Case law makes it clear that obtaining the advice of an independent expert and consultant will make it possible to defeat a bad faith claim. Every insurer should understand that expert witnesses and consultants can significantly strengthen an insurer's defenses against claims of bad faith.

Failure of an insurer to consult with an expert can be used by an expert for the policyholder to establish that the insurer acted in bad faith.

Indispensable Advice

As a claims person and claims attorney for more than 45 years, Barry Zalma has represented insurers, advised insurers on claims handling, interpreted coverages, and testified as an insurance coverage, insurance fraud, insurance bad faith and insurance claims handling expert. Zalma  has written insurance policies for insurers and is the author of books used daily by working claims professionals.

With ZIC as your consultant you get the expert advice and counsel many insurers have found indispensable. Consultation from ZIC can save you and your counsel or client hundreds of hours of investigative and legal work.

Take advantage of Mr. Zalma's more than 45 years of claims experience. Allow ZIC's experience  to find a resolution to your insurance dispute that is fair, intelligent, and beneficial to your client. Consultation from Mr. Zalma can save you or your client thousands of dollars in the prosecution or defense of an insurance dispute.

Instant Response

Counsel and clients, in a shortsighted effort to save expenses, often wait until the last moment to retain an expert or consultant. Expert consultants like Zalma Insurance Consultants can save an insurer, insured, or the defense or plaintiff's attorney considerable time and expense if retained early. Because Mr. Zalma declines all litigation assignments as a lawyer and keeps his caseload low, he can completely control his calendar and can respond to your request for advice and counsel promptly. Usually within no more than five working days, regardless of the total volume of the file materials, he will be ready to consult with you or testify on your client's behalf. If he cannot personally deal with your claim, Mr. Zalma will refer you to one of his experienced Zalma Insurance Consultants colleagues.

Mr. Zalma recommends that counsel retain the services of Zalma Insurance Consultants early and avoid wasting time and money pursuing a suit or defense that can be circumvented with his assistance. Zalma Insurance Consultants will promptly review file materials and advise you about the viability of your defense. He can also help you narrow the scope of discovery. No other insurance consultant or expert witness can offer such prompt, credible, and authoritative advice on insurance, insurance coverage, insurance fraud or insurance claims handling questions.

Fees

ZIC provides the services of Mr. Zalma as an expert or consultant at the rate of only $450 per hour; ZIC requires a retainer of $6,750 that is applied to the final invoice. The only expenses charged are those actually incurred for travel and meals outside Culver City, California at the exact amount paid by ZIC.

For details and a complete copy of his C.V. direct your browser to http://www.zalma.com or  E-Mail Mr. Zalma at zalma@zalma.com or call Mr. Zalma at 310-390-4455.

Member: Forensic Expert Witness Association

FORENSIC EXPERT WITNESS ASSOCIATION
10820 Beverly Blvd. A5
PMB 310
Whittier, CA 90601
Phone: 562 695 4600  
Fax: 714 459 7198 
info@forensic.org

Contact

  Barry Zalma  

Consultant

4441 Sepulveda Boulevard
CULVER CITY CA 90230-4847
310-390-4455 * Fax: 310-391-5614
http://www.zalma.com  or zalma@zalma.com 
Read the Web Log, Zalma on Insurance

Updated  October 18, 2012

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