Insurance Policyholder Duties After a Loss and Proof of Loss Forms
When you sign a contract with your insurance company, both sides are making an agreement. Your insurance company agrees to cover certain losses in certain situations. Policyholders like you, however, also need to meet certain requirements.
As an insurance policyholder, you have certain duties after a loss. You must give prompt notice of the loss, for example, and contact the police if necessary. You need to file a sworn proof of loss document explaining specific details of your insurance claim.
If you fail to meet these duties, then your insurance claim could be denied. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at insurance policyholder duties after a loss and submitting proof of loss.
Insurance Claim Duties Required by Policyholders After a Loss
Specific duties vary between insurance companies. However, duties after a loss typically include all of the following:
- You must give prompt notice of the loss to one of the insurance company’s agents
- You are required to notify the police in case of loss by theft or a committed crime
- You must protect your property from further damages, making all reasonable and necessary repairs to the property while keeping an accurate record of repair expenses, including costs incurred by yourself or a professional repair company
- You must cooperate with the investigation of a claim by the insurance company, which includes cooperating with the insurance company’s adjusters as they investigate various aspects of your claim
- You must prepare an inventory of damaged personal property indicating the quantity, description, actual cash value, and amount of loss, including all bills, receipts, and related documents justifying the figures listed in the inventory
- You are required to show the damaged property to your insurance company as often as the company reasonably requires
- You must provide the company with records and documents upon request and permit the insurance company to make copies of those documents
- You must submit to examination under oath, including individual examination away from your spouse, housemate, or any other insured individual
- You must submit a sworn proof of loss document within 60 days of the insurance company’s request
All of these duties after a loss are fairly standard for insurance companies, although specific requirements may differ between companies. Check your policy to discover your specific duties after a loss. Or, your insurance company may have posted this information on its official website.
You Must Submit a Sworn Proof of Loss For Your Claim
A proof of loss is a document that outlines specific details of your insurance claim. You are required to complete your proof of loss to the best of your knowledge and belief. Your proof of loss must be sworn and signed. Most insurance companies require you to submit your proof of loss within 60 days of filing the claim.
Generally, a proof of loss form requires you to include information like the coverage amounts at the time of the loss, the date and cause of the loss, and the parties claiming the loss under the insurance policy. Specific information required on the proof of loss form can include:
- The time and cause of the loss
- The interests of all insured individuals and other individuals in the property
- All liens on the property
- Other insurance policies that may cover the loss
- Changes in title or occupancy of the property during the policy term
- Details of damaged buildings and detailed repair estimates
- Inventory of damaged personal property
- Receipts for additional living expenses incurred, including records that support fair rental value loss
- Evidence or affidavit that supports additional claims
The goal of a proof of loss document is to protect the insurance company by forcing the customer to either tell the truth about the claim or lie under oath and face more serious penalties. Insurance companies lose millions of dollars to insurance fraud every year. Sworn proof of loss statements are one more way for insurance companies to avoid this issue.
Tips for Filling Out & Submitting a Proof of Loss Form
1) Fill Out the Form Accurately and Truthfully
Failing to fill out the form accurately can lead to underpayment of your claim. Or, the insurance company could even deny your claim entirely. Fabricating information on your proof of loss form could lead to fraud charges.
All information mentioned in the form must be factual and based on supporting evidence. Inaccuracies or misrepresentations can result in a denial of coverage.
2) Follow Time Requirements
Insurance companies may require your proof of loss form within 30 to 60 days of requesting the form. Make sure you abide by these time requirements.
Remember: insurance companies will look for any excuse to weaken or deny your claim. Failing to submit a proof of loss document within a certain period of time can cause significant future problems.
3) Obtain Detailed Estimates of Property Damage
The more supporting evidence you have to support your claim, the better. You may want to contact a public adjuster to help you create a specific estimate of your property damage, for example.
Or, you may want to contact a general contractor, a roofing company, or another specialist to complete an estimate. Then, provide this estimate to the insurance company.
It’s always helpful to have these estimates even if the proof of loss form doesn’t require them. If your insurance company offers $10,000 to repair the damages but the estimate was for $25,000, for example, then you may be better able to negotiate with the insurer.
How Public Adjusters Can Help with Proof of Loss
A public adjuster can help manage policyholder duties and submitting proof of loss. A good public adjuster will help you prepare, estimate, negotiate, and settle your insurance claim, maximizing your settlement offer and ensuring you abide by all proof of loss document requirements.
Contact a ClaimsMate public adjuster today to get help with proof of loss and other policyholder duties for a property insurance claim.