Insurance policies always have time deadlines to do something after a loss happens. The failure to follow these may prevent recovery. I will be discussing and answering questions about these policy time requirements over the next several weeks during our Tuesdays at 2 With Chip Merlin.

What are the primary time deadlines that policyholders have to be wary of? Here are the big four:

  1. Notice of Loss
  2. Proof of Loss
  3. Repair and Replacement
  4. Statutes of Limitation

There are other time considerations, but these are the “killers of coverage” in some jurisdictions and under some circumstances. Following a loss, every policyholder should know these dates, the rules in their particular state governing them, and how they can kill coverage.

Why did I place special emphasis on the rule in each state? Because analysis varies depending on the type of loss, policy language, and the statutes, regulations, and common law of each state. These are sometimes not the easiest rules to apply.

Often, insurance companies, acting in the utmost of good faith, do not enforce the rules even if they could avoid payment. I see this when reviewing files. Bravo to those insurers that allow the insurance product to do what it supposed to do—pay the claim benefits.

This sometimes leads to some policyholders, public adjusters, and contractors thinking that there must be a different rule or that insurers will not enforce the time rules. Then a denial occurs with a time deadline recited as the reason, and we are faced with determining if the rule truly applies so coverage can be afforded.

In last Friday’s post, Arkansas Insurance Department Recognizes That Policyholders Do Not Normally Climb on Roofs To Inspect For Damage, I noted how the Arkansas Department of Insurance filed a Bulletin seemingly giving policyholders more time to file a notice of loss following a hailstorm. What I did not say is that a Bulletin is not an administrative regulation and may not be binding if the insurance company was to take the position that the policyholder gave late notice.

These time requirements can be legally complex in many states and deserve study so they are not missed and coverage benefits lost. I hope you can join us for the first of these sessions tomorrow at 2 PM EST.

On Friday, I will be starting a weekly topic just on proofs of loss with Merlin Law Group attorney, Corey Harris. Corey wrote a series of blogs a decade ago on various issues concerning proofs of loss. Proofs of loss are often misunderstood, and I recently posted on social media warning public adjusters not to tell policyholders that they do not have to file notarized proofs of loss. Just that one topic of a proof of loss is full of legal complexities which vary greatly between the states and depending on the type of loss. Each week we will cover specific topics about proofs of loss, which we hope to keep to 30 minutes every Friday.

Thought For The Day

Deadlines aren’t bad. They help you organize your time. They help you set priorities. They make you get going when you might not feel like it.
—Harvey Mackay