Policyholders are often surprised to learn that their insurance policy imposes certain obligations on them, not just on the insurance company. It is important to consult your policy (and an attorney) about your obligations for each claim. But, among other things, you are likely required to:
- Cooperate with the insurance company in its investigation. Your insurance policy requires that you cooperate in the insurance company’s investigation, and insurers can and will deny claims for non-cooperation. Frequently, the insurer’s requests can seem intrusive (personal financial information, for example) or burdensome (receipts for items purchased years ago, for example). Questions about whether a demand is reasonable or required? Contact us.
- Submit a “proof of loss”. A proof of loss is a formal, signed, demand to the insurance company to pay a particular amount for the loss. In New York, you are generally required to provide a proof of loss within 60 days of it being requested. Preparing this document is best done by professionals. (In some cases, the insurer will prepare the document for you, but in accepting this you may be giving up your right to contest the amount of the claim.)
- Submit to an “examination under oath” upon request. Your policy requires that you submit to a formal examination under oath at the insurer’s request. Insurers do not ask for these on every claim. If they are seeking an examination under oath on your claim, it may be a sign that they are investigating a reason to deny your claim, and you should consider consulting an attorney.
- If you are going to rebuild or replace your property, you may have to do so within strict time limits. Many insurance policies offer what is called “replacement cost benefits.”
- This means that you receive the amount necessary to rebuild or replace the property, rather than just the value of the property at the time of the loss (which in many cases will be less due to depreciation). However, in order to receive replacement cost benefits, in most cases you must actually replace the damaged property. Further, policies may impose strict time limitations on when this replacement can be done.
- File any lawsuit within one or two years of the date of the loss. In New York, insurance policies generally require that any lawsuit to enforce the policy be filed within one or two years of the date of the loss. These are very strict deadlines, and if you believe a deadline may be approaching, you should promptly contact an attorney. We would be happy to provide a free consultation.