Duties After A Loss

Duties After A Loss

Guest author, attorney Patrick Olmstead, shared insightful information in my previous post titled A Fire Loss Completely Changes Your Life. He explains what can happen to a business owner after a fire. Similar issues face a homeowner as well. Whether a loss is from a fire, burglary, or natural disaster, your insurance company will require an itemized list of what you need repaired or replaced.

There are specified duties that every policyholder must adhere to, as noted in the insurance policy. A section in standard homeowners policies includes this information, as noted on the ISO HO 00 03 form, provided by the Insurance Information Institute. If you want to review yours, you can  locate it in your policy under Conditions, B. Duties after Loss.

In case of a loss

It states, “In case of a loss to covered property, we have no duty to provide coverage [emphasis added] under this policy if the failure to comply with the following duties is prejudicial to us. These duties must be performed either by you, an “insured” seeking coverage, or a representative of either:

  • Give prompt notice to us or our agent;
  • Notify the police in case of loss by theft;
  • Cooperate with us in the investigation of a claim;
  • Prepare an inventory of damaged personal property showing the quantity, description, actual cash value and amount of loss. Attach all bills, receipts and related documents that justify the figures in the inventory;
  • As often as we reasonably require, a) Show the damaged property; b) Provide us with records and documents we request and permit us to make copies; and c) Submit to examination under oath, while not in the presence of another “insured”, and sign the same;
  • Send to us, within 60 days after our request, your signed, sworn proof of loss which sets forth, to the best of your knowledge and belief, … f) The inventory of damaged personal property described above.

The inventory can be neatly handwritten, on an Excel spreadsheet, on a form downloaded from the internet, in a detailed, narrated video of your belongings from room to room, in information added to an app or in some other form of record. What’s important is that every item is accounted for [emphasis added], with as much detail as possible.”

There are additional requirements, but we only included those pertinent to personal property losses.

The responsibility is on the policyholder

As you can see, the responsibility to create and submit a thorough and detailed document is on the policyholder. When items are burned beyond recognition, blown away in a hurricane or tornado, or stolen, there is only one way be able to receive an equitable settlement – a personal property inventory prepared before you need it.

Preparing your home and/or business inventory – or hiring an inventory service to do it for you – prior to a loss will help you submit the detailed information and proof of ownership the insurance company requests. Now you know why we always say … If you can’t remember, you can’t recover.