The elements of a bad faith claim or lawsuit against a Missouri insurance company 

In 2014,  Missouri Supreme Court identified the elements of a Missouri bad faith claim (what lawyers are required to prove to a jury)  as:

Scottdale Ins. Co v. Addison Ins. Co., 448 S.W.3d 818, 827 (Mo. Banc 2014).

Determining if the Missouri bad faith elements are met, and if a valid claim against an insurance carrier can proceed, is not simple.  The Missouri Supreme Court has stated that the analysis is unique “in each case upon its particular state of facts.”   Zumwalt.  

The first and second elements, that the Missouri insurer company (either directly or through a third party claims administrator) has “assumed control” over the negotiations and that the insured is prohibited from assuming liability or settling, are rarely an issue.  Almost every insurance (whether automobile, home, commercial, business, or professional) policy written in Missouri gives the insurance carrier the right to negotiate and/or settle a claim they accept coverage of.  Of course, if the insurance carrier fails to defend the claim, or defends under a reservation of rights, then this element may not be met.  

The third element is the one that is typically at issue because insurance companies will rarely, if ever, admit that they violated Missouri law and acted in bad faith or are guilty of fraud.  The issues of bad faith and/or fraud are matters for jury resolution.  See e.g. Rinehart v. Shelter General Ins. Co., 261 S.W.3d 583 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008); Zumwalt v. Utilities Ins. Co., 228 S.W.2d 750, 754 (Mo. 1950).

Examples of evidence of insurance bad faith in Missouri: