When Do You Have To Report Property Damage To Your Insurance Company?
Reporting your property damage claim as soon as possible is the best course of action. Almost all homeowners insurance policies require you to “give prompt notice” to the insurance carrier after a loss. This requirement is often contained within the “Your Duties After Loss” provision which is usually located under the “Section 1 – Conditions” portion of the policy. Prompt notice allows the insurance carrier an opportunity to investigate the loss and determine the cause of the damage (i.e., Hurricane winds) and the amount that it would cost to repair the damage.
Almost all insurance policies contain a requirement that you comply with all the terms and provisions of the policy (i.e., giving prompt notice of the loss) in order to get insurance coverage. If you do not give the insurance carrier “prompt notice” of the loss your claim could be denied because you failed to comply with the policy. Insurance carriers also claim that when property owners do not give “prompt notice” of a loss the carrier is prejudiced in its ability to investigate the loss. This means that the carrier does not have an opportunity to see the damage when it is fresh and therefore the carrier cannot properly evaluate the cause of the damage or the necessary repairs. If the delay in reporting the claim is too long then property insurance claims can be denied and your opportunity to collect benefits could be closed.
What is “prompt notice?” Generally speaking, prompt notice means a reasonable amount of time to report the loss after you discover it. As a property owner, your obligation under the policy is to promptly report any losses that could be covered. You do not have to wait until you can confirm all the damage from the storm or until you get a quote from a general contractor. The best course of action is to report the claim immediately.
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