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Key Takeaways

• Bad faith claims in Wisconsin pose challenges as they can be exploited as a strategic tool, leading to deceptive legal maneuvers and increasing costs for insurers and policyholders.

• Wisconsin recognizes both first-party and third-party bad faith claims, allowing insured individuals to challenge their insurance company's intentional and unreasonable denial of valid claims or failure to fulfill their obligations.

• The rise of frivolous bad faith claims burdens insurers, clogs the legal system, and necessitates the implementation of safeguards to discourage such abuses.

• Objective evidence is crucial to substantiate bad faith allegations, and courts in Wisconsin have shown a willingness to impose sanctions on those found to have filed meritless claims.

• Striking a balance between protecting policyholders' rights and preventing the misuse of bad faith claims remains an ongoing challenge, requiring continued vigilance, scrutiny, and adaptation of countermeasures within the legal system.

A contentious issue within the legal landscape of Wisconsin is bad faith claims. These claims can arise when an insured party accuses their insurance company of intentionally disregarding their obligations under the insurance policy. An increase in deceptive legal maneuvers can be caused by bad faith claims used to exploit and pressure insurers. In this article, our litigation attorneys will explore the details of bad faith claims in Wisconsin, providing an overview of the potential misuse and the implications within the state's legal system.

Understanding Bad Faith Claims

To start, it is crucial to understand the legal standards that define bad faith claims in Wisconsin. Bad faith refers to the insurer's intentional and unreasonable denial of an insured party's valid claim or a deliberate failure to investigate, process, or settle a claim properly. Wisconsin recognizes both first-party and third-party bad faith claims. First-party claims are disputes between an insured individual and their own insurance company. In contrast, third-party claims pertain to disputes from liability claims where a third party sues the insured.

Man filing bad faith insurance claim with pen and paper

How to Tell if You Have a Bad Faith Claim in Wisconsin

While it can be challenging to determine a bad faith claim on your own, you can start by accessing the actions and conduct of your insurance company. While consulting with a legal professional is recommended for a thorough evaluation of your specific situation, here are some key indicators to consider:

1. Unreasonable denial or delay: If your insurance company unreasonably denies your valid claim or unjustifiably delays processing it without a valid reason, it could be a sign of potential bad faith.

2. Lack of investigation: If your insurer fails to investigate your claim properly or neglects to gather relevant evidence, it may indicate bad faith.

3. Failure to communicate: If your insurance company fails to respond to your inquiries, disregards your requests for information, or withholds crucial details about your claim, it could indicate bad faith.

4. Inadequate settlement offers: If your insurer consistently offers unreasonably low settlement amounts that do not align with the value of your claim, it may suggest bad faith.

5. Breach of policy terms: If your insurance company violates the terms and conditions outlined in your policy, such as refusing coverage that should be provided under the terms, it may be an indication of bad faith.

6. Disregard for industry standards: If your insurer's actions deviate significantly from the industry's standard practices or codes of conduct, it might suggest bad faith.

7. Pattern of similar complaints: Research and inquire if there is a history of similar complaints or lawsuits against your insurance company regarding bad faith practices.

Remember that these indicators are general guidelines, and the specifics of your situation are crucial. Consulting with an experienced Wisconsin litigation attorney specializing in insurance law will comprehensively assess your claim and guide you through the legal process.

Exploitation and Deceptive Maneuvers

While bad faith claims can be used as a means to protect the rights of insured parties, they can also be used as a strategic tool to exploit insurance companies. Some claimants, motivated by the potential for substantial monetary rewards, may abuse the bad faith claim process to secure more favorable settlements. This can be things such as exaggerating the extent of damages, withholding relevant information, or presenting a skewed narrative to strengthen their case.

One deceptive tactic gaining popularity is the filing of frivolous bad faith claims. This would be a claimant accusing of bad faith without sufficient evidence or genuine belief in the claim's validity. The legal system can become clogged with these frivolous claims, which in turn delays honest cases and increases the cost for all parties involved.

Implications and Countermeasures

Wisconsin courts have put safeguards into place to address these challenges. The courts have emphasized the importance of objective evidence to substantiate a claimant's bad faith allegations and actively discourage the acceptance of speculative or unsubstantiated claims. Wisconsin courts have shown a willingness to impose sanctions on those found to have filed frivolous bad faith claims in hopes of deterring potential abusers.


Bad faith claims in Wisconsin have become a double-edged sword, capable of safeguarding policyholders' rights while also opening the door to deception and abuse. While the legal system has implemented safeguards to mitigate the exploitation of bad faith claims, vigilance, and continued scrutiny are necessary. Striking a delicate balance between protecting policyholders and deterring abuse remains an ongoing challenge for the courts, insurers, and policymakers. By staying attentive to evolving legal standards and adapting countermeasures, Wisconsin can navigate the complex landscape of bad faith claims more effectively, preserving justice and fairness for all parties involved.

May 24, 2023
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