(Note: This Guest Blog is by Corey Harris, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is the seventh part in a series he is writing on post-loss duties).
Most policies have specific conditions that apply to theft losses. The most common is the duty of a policyholder to notify the police, as well as the insurer, of the theft. While this may seem like common sense, there may be a variety of instances where the policyholder fails to notify the police, and this could cause problems in getting the claim paid.
A small theft claim, for instance, may not seem like something that must be reported to the police, however, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Sure, many times the items stolen may be worth less than the policy deductible, but what happens if more items come up missing later? Often, policyholders do not notice that some items are missing until long after a burglary or theft, and failing to notify the police could create issues with the insurance company covering the loss.
Policyholders should also make sure to understand that notifying the police of a loss does not relieve them of their duty to report the loss to the insurer. As discussed in previous posts, if the insurer is not given notice of the loss, coverage could be denied.
The best practice when dealing with a potential theft loss is to immediately notify the police and insurance company. Most insurers closely evaluate theft claims many with an eye towards fraud. If notice is not given to the police or is unreasonably late, the insurer will likely take a more skeptical view. This can cause substantial delays, even if coverage is ultimately not denied.
With that said, this will conclude my posts on Notice of Loss. I have received some great questions and comments both on this blog and by email. I really appreciate those of you who take time to read my posts. While I will be moving on to other post-loss duties, if anyone has any questions about notice or any other topic I cover, please do not hesitate to contact me.