It takes a lot of effort to rebuild your home when it’s damaged. When you add in a pile of insurance claim paperwork, the overall burden can be overwhelming. Insurance companies want estimates, receipts, property inventories, and most importantly, they want your “proof of loss.” If you’re asking yourself, “What is a Proof of Loss?”, you may already have a problem.
What is a proof of loss?
A “Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss” outlines the basic details of your property damage claim and serves as a cover document for supporting claim materials. Your Homeowners policy lists it as a requirement under "Section l Conditions: Duties After a Loss.” A helpful insurance adjuster can give you a proof of loss form and explain what to do, but sometimes that doesn't happen.
Why is a proof of loss necessary?
Your policy gives your insurance company the right to request a proof of loss on any property claim, although they often decide they don't want or need one. The requirement is generally enforced on a claim-by-claim basis, or at various thresholds.
- High Dollar Claim
- Suspicious cause and origin
- Insured credibility issues
- Suspected fraud or arson
Common proof of loss problems
The traditional proof of loss form is a simple one-page document, but insureds often make these common proof of loss mistakes.
Not knowing your policy requirements
Your policy is probably boring, but reading it takes some of the mystery out of the claim handling process. The “Your Duties After a Loss” section is particularly important after you make a property damage claim. It explains a proof of loss and other things you need to do to present and conclude your claim.
Missing your deadline
While you're contemplating the question: "What is a proof of loss?", you could miss your filing deadline. Some policies require your proof of loss submission by a specified number of days after the loss occurs. Others require one only after they ask for it. When you miss your deadline, your insurance company may deny your claim or take other drastic actions.
Failure to know the laws in your jurisdiction
When your state laws require that your insurance company give you more time to file a proof of loss, you won’t likely see the change in your policy. It’s up to you or your representative to know and understand the laws that affect your claim.
Not asking for an extension when you need one
It's easy to miss a crucial proof of loss deadline when you have so many other tasks to complete. You can minimize the backlash by requesting an extension in writing that explains the hardships involved.
Forgetting to have your signature notarized
When a notary witnesses your signature and affixes a seal to your form, that simple act transforms your document into the sworn proof of loss required by your policy. Even if it's flawlessly prepared, your insurance company may reject your proof if it’s not notarized.
Not including your “proof”
Your proof of loss is your insurance company’s simple way of getting you to swear that your version of the events are true. When you read your policy conditions, you also realize that they want your claim documentation as well. Estimates, inventories, receipts, etc. that prove your proof of loss statements are true.
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