Corey Harris and I will be hosting the second discussion about Proofs Of Loss this Friday afternoon at 2 PM EST. Those viewers tuning in to the Livestream will also be invited to get our new Merlin Law Group educational ebook about Proofs of Loss.
I want to give a shout out to public adjuster Cal Spoon. Cal hosted an educational event for public adjusters and one of his students posted on Facebook that she learned that a notarized proof of loss was not required. Cal Spoon knows what states and what policies may require a notary signature. But, his student’s post lead me to this series discussing Proofs of Loss.
So, do proofs of loss have to be notarized? Read the following federal court decision:1
Plaintiffs have failed to meet the requirements for sworn statements or for unsworn statements under Section 1746. To execute a sworn statement correctly, plaintiffs were required to have their POL notarized. To correctly execute an unsworn statement, plaintiffs had to attest both that the facts contained in the POL were true and correct, and that their statements were made under penalty of perjury. Plaintiffs’ POL is not notarized, and it does not include a declaration that the contents of the POL are true under penalty of perjury. The POL states, ‘I hereby declare and attest that the information contained in this letter is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.’ The POL therefore does not meet the SFIP’s requirement that the statement be ‘sworn.’ See Hagstotz v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., No. 17-2491, 2018 WL 5005000 at *4 (D. N.J. Oct. 16, 2018) (holding that a POL must either be notarized or meet the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1746 to qualify as ‘sworn’ under the terms of the SFIP).
Ouch! Yes, in many circumstances, the proof of loss needs to be notarized. Most insurance company adjusters overlook this requirement and many states legally do not require it.
So, what is the Chip Merlin Rule? Safe is Better Than Sorry. If the policy requires a “sworn” proof of loss, make it sworn. If it requires a notary signature, go get it. What is the downside to doing so when the policy requires it?
Here is a link to Friday’s discussion. Hope you will participate and ask questions.
1 Clark v. Wright Nat’l Flood Ins. Co., 380 F. Supp. 3d 523, 530 (E.D. La. 2019).