What is a proof of loss?
Homeowners who sustained Hurricane Irma property damage, may have to complete a form called a “proof of loss” for their insurance company. The proof of loss is a sworn legal document that explains your loss and your damages.
A proof of loss may also attach documentation to support your claim and the amount you are requesting in damages. The proof of loss is not the actual claim; it is simply a statement to your insurer of the cash value of the loss covered by your policy. Although the actual compliance requirements may vary from policy to policy, most policies require the proof of loss to be submitted to your insurer within 60 days after the date of the loss, or from the time when your insurer requests the document.
Sometimes the proof of loss can be very important to your insurer, and sometimes your insurer may not even request one. However, your insurer is well within their rights to request this document, and a failure to provide can be grounds for a claim denial. Typically, the higher the value of the claim, the more likely it will be that your insurer will request a proof of loss. Furthermore, if the insurer believes the insured is not very credible, or the loss occurred under suspicious circumstances, the insurer will be far more likely to request a proof of loss.
What kind of information do you need to include on a proof of loss form?
Most insurers will have a standard proof of loss form for you to fill out and submit. The kind of information you need to include on the form will depend on your insurer, and the type of claim you are making. For example, the National Flood Insurance Program (administered by FEMA) has a form that requires you to fill out basic information such as: your policy number, the policy term, the amount of the building covered at the time of loss, the amount of the contents covered at the time of loss, your insurance agency, and your agent. It is a pretty standard form that can be found online for quick reference.
You will be required to state the type of loss that occurred, the time and date of the loss, and the claimed cause of the loss. For example, if the loss was caused by a flood, or storm winds, then such cause will be described in the proof of loss. If you are filing a claim on your home, you may need to state whether the premises were occupied at the time of the loss, or whether other persons had an interest in the property. Your insurer will use this information to corroborate the value of your claimed loss.
You will need to report the value of your losses. For this part of the document, it may be helpful to consult with a professional such as a public adjuster. A public adjuster is an insurance professional that represents the insured, and only the insured, in the claims process. Or you will need to get estimates from contractors or other insurance professionals to substantiate the value of your loss. If you elect to do this alone, then simply fill out the form as accurately as possible. State the value of the building structures, personal property, and any other items which you are claiming. A typical proof of loss form will have a section stating that the insured did not procure the loss. This is standard in insurance claims, for obvious reasons. Fill out the rest of the form, and get it notarized.
What sort of documentation do you need to include with your proof of loss form?
Any kind of supplemental documents that can help back up your claim. If it is relevant to ownership, value, or loss then you should probably include it with your proof of loss. Things like receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, pictures, estimates, and the like are all relevant to your claim and will probably help your claim go smoother. If your insurer requests any specific documents, then be sure to submit that with your proof of loss as well.
What if your insurer requests a proof of loss form?
If your insurer requests a proof of loss, just follow the instructions, and be truthful. If you feel like you need help, consult with a professional. If you are unsure of the exact amount of the loss, then get an opinion from an expert on the matter. The expert’s estimate can help form the basis of your claim. If you have any questions about the process, the legal implications of submitting a proof of loss form, or if you are met with friction from your insurance company, then do hesitate to seek legal advice.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].
Fla. Stat. 626.8797
Fla. Stat. 627.70131