In Barratt v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, the insured asserted a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing for failure to pay life insurance proceeds. The carrier defended by arguing the policy has lapsed for non-payment of premiums. The court granted the insurer summary judgment on the bad faith claim.
As a first party claim, a finding of bad faith against an insurer in denying an insurance claim cannot be established through simple negligence or by mere failure to settle a debatable claim. Rather the insured must show no fairly debatable basis for denying the claim. In this case, the insurer offered its facts to show non-payment, which would preclude summary judgment and thus it defeated the insured’s argument that no fairly debatable basis existed to deny the claim.
Date of Decision: March 26, 2015
Barratt v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., Civ No. 2:12-6734 (KM)(MAH), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39510 (D.N.J. March 26, 2015) (McNulty, J.)