Whenever you have any insurance claim, whether it is for your home or automobile, the insurance company requires that you notify them of the accident. Notification is an important part of the insurance claim process. This notice allows the insurance company to start their investigation of the accident and if done promptly, you can avoid a Late Notice Insurance Claim Denial.
The insurance company argues that a failure to provide prompt notice denies them their right to “fresh” evidence and information. In some situations, the failure to have this notice can actually allow the insurance company to deny your claim.
Florida law is unkind to insureds in this area of the law, so getting an attorney is especially important after you receive a denial based on late notice.
What is Prompt Notice Under Your Insurance Policy?
Although your insurance policy likely requires “prompt notice,” the contract usually does not explain what “prompt” means in terms of a timeline. As a rule, it is best to start a claim as soon as possible after an accident to avoid problems with the notice requirement. In some situations, you may need to notify a lawyer right away as well; otherwise you might face a Late Notice Insurance Claim Denial
Case of a late notice insurance claim denial
Unfortunately, you may not realize you even have an insurance claim until long after you notice a problem. Consider the case of the LoBello family. Mr. and Mrs. LoBello moved into their new home in 2002. In 2004, the couple saw some cracking in the walls. They did not think much of this and assumed that the house was undergoing some normal settling. Mr. LoBello repaired and painted most of the damaged areas.
Later, the couple mentioned the cracking to a friend, and the friend encouraged them to consult an expert on the cracking. They found out that their home was sinking because of a sinkhole. They made a sinkhole claim with their insurance company in 2008. Their insurance company, State Farm, denied the claim, arguing that the late notice made it impossible for them to do a thorough investigation. Ultimately, the Court found for State Farm based on the delayed notice.
Late Notice Test in Florida
Courts use a two-part test for late notice situations. First, the Court determines whether timely notice was given.
No bright line rule defines what “timely” means. Each case may be slightly different, and it may depend on the seriousness of the damage involved. In some situations, such as a natural disaster, it is immediately apparent that damage has occurred, but in a situation like the LoBello family’s, the loss is not as easy to see. Based on the LoBello case, however, four years is likely going to be too long for “timely” notice.
If the Court determines that notice is untimely, then the insurance company is automatically considered “prejudiced.” The insured can then attempt to show that the insurance company was not prejudiced and demonstrate that it had the opportunity to investigate the claim fully.
This burden on the insured is unique in Florida. Many other states make the insurance company prove that they were prejudiced—not the other way around.
Florida’s unfriendly notice requirement, that might lead to a Late Notice Insurance Claim Denial, means that it is especially important to utilize the services of an experienced insurance claim dispute attorney. Call (954) 315-1155 for more information or contact us here.