What is prompt notice? How can it impact my ability to recover for my insurance claim?
Under the terms of your homeowner’s insurance policy, there are certain conditions or post-loss obligations you are required to comply with in order to obtain coverage for a loss. These conditions are generally contained in the paragraph entitled “Your Duties After Loss” under “SECTION I – CONDITIONS.” Failing to comply or substantially comply with these post-loss obligations may result in the denial of your insurance claim. One such “duty after loss” is the duty to provide “prompt notice.”
How do I provide notice? There is typically a toll-free number on the declarations page for the policy or visit your insurer’s website. In addition, you can also provide notice to your insurance agent.
What is prompt notice? First, there is no definition of “prompt” contained in your insurance policy so do not go looking for it. Second, Florida courts have declined to define the term prompt as well; however, it is well established that “prompt” does not mean instantaneous notice. Instead, courts have stated that notice should be provided within a reasonable time in view of all of the facts of a particular case. There are several circumstances in which providing “prompt” notice of the loss may not be possible:
- You are away on vacation for 2 weeks and return to find a pipe burst causing water damage;
- Hurricane Irma damaged your roof; however, the water intrusion from the roof was not visible for several months after the storm; or
- Water damage is hidden within walls, under floors or above ceilings.
This is just to name a few scenarios in which prompt notice may not be practical or possible.
Lastly, do not worry if you failed to provide prompt notice for whatever reason. You may still be able to recover for the damages to your home if the failure to provide prompt notice did not prejudice the insurance company’s investigation. As for whether the insurance company was actually prejudiced, this is an issue for a jury to decide. Not your insurance company.
Your insurance company will look for any reason to deny your insurance claim. This may include alleging their “investigation has been prejudiced by your failure to provide prompt notice.” The insurance company’s self-serving assertion is not the end of it. A skilled insurance claims attorney can help you navigate the insurance claims process and make sure your insurance company honors its obligations to you.