(Note: This Guest Blog is by Corey Harris, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is part of a series he is writing on post-loss duties).

“In the event of loss or damage, we will adjust the loss with you.” This is a common phrase in property insurance policies, but an important phrase nonetheless. The key word in this sentence is the word with. The insurer will adjust the loss with an insured, not the insurer will adjust the loss for the insured. While the word with may not seem too important at first glance, this phrase can play a very important role in determining whether an insurer or insured may have breached the policy.


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(Note: This Guest Blog is by Corey Harris, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is part of a series he is writing on post-loss duties). 

I recently took the deposition of an independent adjuster who worked on behalf of one of the larger insurers in the state. While most of the deposition was pretty standard, I was shocked when the adjuster said that he had advised the homeowners to stop making temporary repairs to their home. When I asked him to explain why he did not think it was a good idea for temporary repairs to the roof and exterior of the building to be completed, he answered that coverage had not been established yet and he did not think the repairs should be made until it was.


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(Note: This Guest Blog is by Corey Harris, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is part of a series he is writing on post-loss duties).

Think about this for a moment. A homeowner accidentally leaves something in the oven before heading off to the mall for an afternoon of shopping. Unfortunately for our hypothetical insured, that once tasty treat has caused a substantial fire which destroyed part of the house. Under almost all homeowner’s insurance policies, these damages would be covered despite the fact that the fire was caused by the insured’s negligence.


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An insurance company adjuster’s request for invoices of personal property items can be a trap for otherwise honest policyholders. I have been thinking about this topic as a result of Corey Harris‘ post, Notifying the Police in the Case of a Theft Loss, and the weekly highlighted fraud case in Claims Magazine, "Fraud of the Week: Suit Yourself." The basic rule for policyholders to remember is that you are under no obligation to give an insurance company what you do not have and never make up a document because the insurance adjuster says you need it to get paid. For policyholder counsel and public adjusters, protect your client and make certain they are not doing this.


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