What is the duty to notify your insurance company promptly of a claim and what are the consequences of failing to do so?
After a hurricane, insurance companies may find themselves overwhelmed with claims. After such an event, many will have sustained property damages and business losses. A typical insurance policy will contain language imposing on the insured a duty to give the insurance company “prompt notice” of any damages or losses sustained. Unfortunately – and perhaps due to the impact associated with such a traumatic event – many fail to appreciate the importance of notifying their insurance company of their damages as soon as is practicable. However, the failure to give prompt notice often forms the basis of a claim denial.
From the insurance company’s perspective, receiving prompt notice provides the insurer an opportunity to conduct a reasonable investigation. Thus, prompt notice allows your insurance company a chance to evaluate your coverage, to determine the extent of your damages, and to investigate the merits of your claim. Needless to say, it is in the insured’s best interest to notify their insurer of their damages or losses as soon as possible.
What is prompt notice?
Your policy may specify the amount of time in which a claim must be filed after the damage, but more likely the policy will simply state that notice must be “prompt” or “as soon as practicable.” However, these provisions are generally construed as meaning the time must be reasonable in light of all of the circumstances. Generally, this means that notice must be communicated as soon as you know, or should know, of the damages.
Prompt notice means timely notice of the event that caused the damage, as well as prompt notice of the property that has been damaged.
Moreover, insurance companies generally attempt to prioritize and resolve claims not just in the order in which they are reported, but also based on the severity of the damage. Generally, the more severe the damage, the more immediate repairs may need to be done to prevent further damage, or in the case of your home, immediacy may be required in order to make the home habitable again. Thus, reporting your claim timely will provide your insurer the necessary information to be as efficient as possible.
How best to provide prompt notice to your insurance company
When dealing with insurance companies, you should make it a habit to keep well-documented records of all communications you’ve had with your insurer. Make a log of all conversations you’ve had with your insurer, the name of the person you dealt with, their job-title, time and date, etc. You should also send a confirmation letter or email to anyone you spoke with acknowledging the communication, as well as the substance of the matters discussed. This will prevent the insurance company from later denying the communication.
When you are reporting your damages, make sure that you are reporting all patently obvious damages.
Provide notice of your claim to your insurance agent and directly to your insurance company. You can call in the claim but obtain written confirmation from your agent and claims adjuster that the claim has been received.
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].