Protect your rights under an insurance policy

Buildings sometimes burn or suffer other damage, in whole or in part. When this happens, some insurance policy or another is often supposed to cover the loss. But this is only the beginning of the discussion.

Insurance policies universally require that the insured promptly report any loss or other claim. Failure to do so can potentially vitiate or at least impair the coverage. In other words, the policyholder cannot sit down and assume that, because there is an insurance policy, the policyholder has nothing to do.

Rather, the police will often have very specific rules on when, how and to whom the loss should be reported. Failure to follow these rules can adversely affect policy coverage.

A recent case in Florida provides an extreme example. There, Hurricane Irma damaged the property in a way that appeared to be minor. The policyholder casually repaired the damage. Later, when it appeared that the hurricane had caused other more serious damage, the policyholder finally filed a claim with the insurance company 27 months after the hurricane.

The trial court noted that the insurance policy required the policyholder to give “prompt notice” of the loss, and concluded that no reasonable jury could conclude that 27 months were admissible. The court therefore ruled in favor of the insurance company. Although this decision is now under appeal, it is a good warning for any insured.

A variant on the theme, it happens that one party benefits from the insurance policy of another party. For example, a lease may require a tenant to purchase insurance for the benefit of the landlord. In the event of a claim, the tenant will certainly have to file a claim quickly. But the owner should do it too. Something could go wrong with the tenant’s claim. The rights of the landlord are often independent of those of the tenant. The landlord must not put himself at the mercy of the tenant’s competence in handling complaints.

Policyholders often deal with their insurance brokers when a loss occurs. While brokers can help with the process, the policyholder should ensure that they comply with what the policy specifically requires. And the policy will likely require something more than having a pleasant, pleasant conversation with the insurance broker to report the claim.

Beyond the question of the threshold for filing a claim, when a disaster occurs, the policyholder must go and find the insurance policy and read it. Usually, the policy will also have requirements regarding insurance company information, access and inspections, as well as similar procedural requirements. Failure to comply can, again, potentially vitiate coverage. And the policyholder should remember that once a claim arises, some insurance companies run a cat-and-mouse game in which the goal is to deny the claim in some way. other. The policyholder should plan ahead for this, do whatever is necessary to give the insurance company no excuse.

For a claim of any significant size, the policyholder may find it cost effective to quickly hire a professional third party to assist with the process – either a public adjuster or an attorney specializing in the field – rather than relying on the insurance broker, whose loyalty can be complex.

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