Colonial Life Discovery in a Bad Faith Case

The appropriate procedure to obtain production of other claim files handled by a claims adjuster is to obtain an order to compel that requires the parties to agree on a letter sent to the policy holders requesting authorization to release their claims files. Any order for discovery of other claims files must be conditional on obtaining the written consent of the other claimants in response to a court-approved request form. The consent form must be dated, signed, and obtained within a year prior to disclosure. [See Ins. Code section 791.13; Mead Reinsurance Co. v. Sup. Court (1986) 186 Cal. App.3d 313, 317; See also Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co. v. Sup. Ct., (1982), 31 Cal. 3d785, 792.] This procedure protects the policy holders’ right to privacy.

Evidence of claims files of other insureds may be discoverable if relevant to the subject matter of the action or reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence. [See Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.010(a); Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co. v. Sup. Ct. (1982) 31 Cal. 3d. 785, 790] Evidence of other homeowner claims handled by the claims adjuster is relevant on the issue of Defendant’s bad faith handling of Plaintiff’s claim and punitive damages.

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