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As a policyholder, you pay a premium for the insurance company to reimburse you for property damage covered under the terms of your policy. This is a binding agreement that obligates your insurance company to pay you fairly and stay true to the promise they make as a party to the insurance agreement.

Often, property owners are wary of reporting claims to their insurance company in fear of their premiums being raised, or out of concern that the insurance company will drop their policy. Reporting your claims to your insurance company will not raise your premium and an insurance carrier cannot drop you for simply reporting a claim. It is your right to obtain compensation for your covered property claim—this is why you pay a premium!

Do not be afraid to file a claim with your insurance carrier for a claim that you believe you are entitled to coverage for, even if a few months or more than a year has elapsed. Under Florida Statute 95.11, you have four years to bring a lawsuit concerning property damage. If you report a claim a few months or years late, insurance carriers will often hide behind a statement that your late reporting prejudiced their investigation of the claim and constitutes a breach of the policy. But, if the insurance company came to a coverage determination, it will be highly difficult for the insurance company to prove that a late report prejudiced their investigation of this claim. Although every claim will depend on the facts, late reporting is very rarely a valid basis to deny coverage.

In these situations, courts have found that when a policyholder fails to substantially comply with a post-loss obligation, such as providing prompt notice of the loss, the insurance company is presumed to be prejudiced. Initially, the burden is on the policyholder to show that the late reporting of the claim did not prejudice the insurance company. To be clear, simply reporting a claim late does not mean the insurance company’s investigation of the claim was prejudiced. Each claim is fact-specific. It is imperative that the insured provide specific evidence that the insurer was able to complete its investigation despite reporting the claim late. This is exactly where The Property People can assist you in pursuing rightful payment for your claim!

Generally, courts look at whether the insurance company was able to investigate the cause and scope of the damages reported. Notably, with time, the cause and scope of the damage can become increasingly difficult for the insurance company to determine. Generally, if you can show the passage of time did not obstruct the insurer from fully investigating the claim and coming to a coverage determination, the burden of showing that reporting the claim late did not prejudice the insurance company will be satisfied. Nevertheless, do your best to promptly report damages to the insurance company. For clarification and advocacy in pursuit of rightful payment, seek legal counsel for help understanding or complying with any post-loss obligation.

CategoryLegal Advice
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