Attorneys Ashley Jordan and Christopher Kuleba of Reed Smith LLP have identified six areas of concern when filing a property claim, with tips to avoid problems. Their post is on https://www.reuters.com/legal/legalindustry/this-season-fires-hurricanes-avoiding-insurance-coverage-pitfalls-2021-07-30/.
1. Notice: Insurers must be notified promptly as required by policy terms and state law. A first notice must be sent as soon as possible to avoid rejection due to late notice
- The notice should contain as much information as needed to establish a loss, reserving the right to submit more information as it becomes available.
2. Proof of loss will be required within a time period specified in the policy.
- The period may be extended by state law.
- If needed, insureds should request additional time.
- Ask the insurer for a proof of loss form; if it does not fit the loss circumstances get permission to customize or supplement it.
- If the loss is still being investigated at the submission deadline, submit the proof as preliminary subject to change.
- If the insurer makes a partial payment, do not sign a release that will foreclose future payments. Confirm that accepting a payment does not foreclose your right to additional payments.
3. Document requests: The insurer is allowed to inspect an insured's books, records and other documents.
- The request must be reasonable. Some states require the insurer to explain the request.
- Insureds can ask the insurer to review documents onsite and copy what is needed.
- Require a confidentiality agreement when needed.
4. Supplemental claims may have to be made based on updated information.
- Be sure to observe any time limits in the policy or state law.
5.Deadlines to repair or replace: Repair or replacement must be made within a specified time to be covered for replacement cost.
- Check state law for deadline extensions.
- Submit a request for an extension if repair or replacement is unavoidably delayed.
6. Suit limitations: Suits are barred if not filed within a limited period.
- The period may be extended by sate law.
- If the insurer is still considering the claim, the period may be extended.
- The best strategy may be to file suit before a deadline.