A Homeowner's Guide to Proof of Loss Statements

When storm damage occurs, the loss may not only be the damages to the building. Hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, and floods can also affect your personal property. When this happens, the burden of the proof of loss lies with you, the policyholder. The following can help you understand the legal ramifications of this proof.

What Is Proof of Loss?

The proof of loss details what damages, including property loss and building damage, were sustained as a result of the storm. This is a sworn document so it is considered a formal notification of the loss. Some insurance companies provide a proof of loss form that you simply fill out and sign, while others do not provide a form so you must write out the document yourself. It is usually a one-page document, although extensive losses may require additional pages.

What Are the Filing Requirements?

There will be deadlines and other filing requirements, depending on your state regulations and insurance company policy. Generally, you are given at least 60 days to file the document, although extensions may be granted if there are extenuating circumstances such as a delay in access to your property due to safety concerns. The document may need to be notarized, as well. Contact your insurance company for the deadline, and make sure it is also provided to you in writing so you have proof of said deadline in the event the company tries to deny your claim due to date issues.

Does It Need to Be Detailed?

The proof of loss should be an itemized list of every item lost and each damage suffered as a result of the storm. This includes personal property, building damages, and damages to systems such as septic or well water installations. You may also need to list the value of items, particularly personal property losses, where applicable. Other losses that may also be covered, such as emergency hotel stays, may also need to be listed on the statement. Your insurance claims lawyer can help you determine what details to include.

Proof of loss statements don't just inform your insurance company of what items they need to cover, they also protect you in the event the insurance company attempts to deny or reduce your claim. Since the statement is considered a legal document, your insurance lawyer can use it to help build your case in the event you must sue your insurance company. Contact an insurance claim law office, such as the Law Offices of William Fenton Sink, if you need more assistance proving your loss.