The Institutes

Washington Supreme Court Holds Claims Adjusters Cannot Be Personally Liable For Bad Faith

 Tuesday, October 8, 2019

 Cozen O'Connor

In a closely contested 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court held in Keodalah v. Allstate Insurance Company, et al., Slip. Op. No. 95867-0, ___ P.3d ___ (Oct. 3, 2019), that a claims adjuster cannot be held personally liable to an insured for bad faith.

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court found that claims adjusters owe no statutory or common law duty of good faith to the insured, the breach of which Keodalah argued supported his claim against an individual adjuster for personal liability for alleged bad faith.

The dissenting justices, not unexpectedly, would have permitted such claims.

An uninsured motorcyclist collided with Keodalah’s vehicle at a controlled intersection. Keodalah suffered significant injuries.

Although the motorcyclist had the right of way, the police concluded that the motorcyclist’s excessive speed caused the collision and that Keodalah was not using his cellphone at the time of the accident. Allstate’s accident investigator concurred with the police’s conclusions.

Keodalah requested the full $25,000 policy limit under his Allstate UIM coverage. Asserting that Keodalah was 70 percent at fault, Allstate offered only $1,600.