Earlier today, in a case of first impression, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted the Terletsky two-part test for proving a statutory “bad faith” claim under 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8371, which requires that a plaintiff present “clear and convincing evidence (1) that the insurer did not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy and (2) that the insurer knew of or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis.” Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company, No. 28 WAP 2016 (Pa. Sept. 28, 2017). The court further ruled that proof of an insurer’s “subjective motive of self-interest or ill-will,” while potentially probative of the second prong of the test, is not a requirement to prevail under § 8371. Evidence of an insurer’s “knowledge or reckless disregard for its lack of a reasonable basis” for denying a claim alone, according to the court, is sufficient even in cases seeking punitive damages.
Reprinted courtesy of John Anooshian, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. and Sean Mahoney, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C.
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