When the storms of 2004 and 2005 slammed Florida and the Southeast, policyholders had a duty to notify the carrier of the loss and sometimes things went wrong during these communications. Part of the problem was because many claims were just telephoned in and many of the carriers used untrained adjusters who did not have the experience on how to handle and adjust hurricane losses. Many policyholders addressed this problem by hiring licensed public insurance adjusters to handle their claims; representation by lawyers well versed in this area of insurance law was also common with these hurricane losses. Today, policyholders still have a duty to notify the insurance company of a claim, and even with all the advancements in technology, you need to make sure your insurance company is properly on notice.


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Carriers and their lawyer cite the Hamilton1 case for the proposition that a nineteen-month delay in reporting a loss is, as a matter of law, not prompt and therefore prejudices the carrier from investigating the claim. Interestingly, the main evidence presented by the policyholder in Hamilton was deposition testimony from the two insurance adjusters who investigated the claim for the carrier.

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If an insured fails to provide prompt notice of its property loss, it can often be grounds for denial of coverage. Most policies have a provision that notice be given promptly, immediately, or as soon as practicable. The question then becomes what is “prompt notice”? In PDQ Coolidge Formad, LLC v. Landmark American Insurance Company,1 an insured, PDQ Coolidge Formad, LLC (“PDQ”) owned an apartment complex named Washington Shores in Orlando, Florida. Washington Shores sustained severe roof damage resulting from Tropical Storm Fay on August 20, 2008. Paragraph 3a.(2) of the insured’s Policy provided that in the event of loss or damage, PDQ was required to give Landmark “prompt notice of the loss or damage.” (emphasis added)


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In practically every insurance policy, a policyholder is required to give prompt notice of the claim before the insurance company has any responsibility to act on the claim.

What happens if the policyholder substantially delays in giving notice of the claim, or in some circumstances, fails to give notice altogether? Is the policyholder’s claim automatically barred or forfeited?


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Proof of Loss requirements have been a hot topic on the blog this week. As part of my series on North Carolina claims, I had to join the conversation and make sure those who have claims in North Carolina are aware of the requirements regarding Sworn Statements of Proof of Loss. In North Carolina, policyholders may be required by an insurance policy to submit a Proof of Loss even if the insurance company doesn’t request it. So it is critical for all policyholders to understand policy requirements for Proofs before the storm hits or the fire happens.


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In my October 13, 2012, post, I gave an overview of an ongoing blog topic for me – post-claim / pre-suit insurance policy conditions. In my October 26, 2012, post, I gave some insight on compliance with an insurer’s request for examination. In my November 2, 2012, post, I wrote about proofs of loss. November 9, 2012, was document requests. Today’s topic is claim notice.


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The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Florida recently issued another opinion in a late notice Hurricane Wilma case, Slominski v. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.1 The Court clarified its previous opinion in Kroener v. FIGA.2 Citizens argued in Slominski that Kroener stands for the proposition that a claim made over two and one-half years after the date of loss is barred as a matter of law due to the late notice.


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