Protect your rights under an insurance policy


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

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

On the contrary, the police will often have very specific rules about when, how and to whom the loss must be reported. Failure to follow these rules may affect policy coverage.

A recent case in Florida provides an extreme example. There, Hurricane Irma damaged the property in a way that seemed minor. The policyholder repaired the damage casually. Later, when it looked like the hurricane had caused more serious damage, the insured 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 held that no reasonable jury could find that 27 months qualified. The court therefore ruled in favor of the insurance company. Although this decision is now on appeal, it is a good warning for any insured.

As a variation on the theme, sometimes one party benefits from another party’s insurance policy. For example, a lease may require a tenant to maintain insurance for the benefit of the landlord. If a loss occurs, the tenant must certainly 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 should 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. Although brokers can help with the process, the policyholder must ensure that they meet the specific requirements of the policy. And the policy will likely require something more than a nice, pleasant chat with the insurance broker to report the claim.

Beyond the threshold for filing a claim, when a loss occurs, the policyholder must go and get the insurance policy and read it. Usually the policy will also include requirements regarding information to be provided to the insurance company, access and inspections, and similar procedural requirements. Failure to comply can, again, potentially vitiate coverage. And the policyholder should remember that once a claim arises, some insurance companies initiate a game of cat and mouse where the goal is to deny the claim one way or another. other. The policyholder should plan this in advance, doing whatever is necessary to give the insurance company no excuses.

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


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