Reading this article will teach you what documents you should give to your insurance company
You had the misfortune of having an accident or loss in your home. A fire, a broken plumbing line or theft. The place is a mess and you need to get your life back in order. The good news is you have insurance. You make a call and report your claim. The insurance company inspects your home and tells you to expect to hear from them soon. Sure enough, you eventually get a letter in the mail from the insurance company but there is no check. Instead, the insurance company is asking you to provide them with a long list of seemingly unrelated documents. This includes the deed to the home, mortgage papers, pre-purchase inspection reports, utility bills, bank and credit card statements, and even tax returns. You wonder, do I really have to do this?
Florida insurance law requires you to cooperate with the claim investigation
The short answer to your question is yes. The insurance contract requires you to cooperate with the insurance company’s requests for information during the investigation of the claim. Failing or refusing to cooperate with the insurance company’s requests can lead to the denial of your claim. It is always best therefore to provide everything and as much as you have to the insurance company when requested. Do not give the insurance company an excuse to deny your claim.
Provide reasonable responses to reasonable requests
How much and how often must you do this? What you must provide and how often is usually outlined in your insurance contract. The key here is that the insurance company’s requests should be reasonably calculated to assist in the investigation of the claim. So long as the requests are reasonable you are then obligated to comply with those requests.
Sometimes, however, the insurance company may abuse this process by requesting confidential or personal information that may have nothing to do with the claim. Examples can include requests for (1) complete tax returns and all schedules including those for businesses you may own; (2) complete monthly bank and credit card statements (not just the pertinent charges related to the claim); and (3) access to all telephone, email and text records. The insurance company knows you are most likely going to resist providing this information. Often, an insurance company will use these tactics to either delay the payment of your claim or as a pretext to deny the claim if you refuse to provide the information.
This naturally puts you between a rock and a hard place. If you give the information, your privacy is invaded by providing the insurance company with personal and financial data unrelated to the claim. And if you do not give the information, you risk having your insurance claim denied.
When in doubt retain a Florida insurance lawyer to review the requests
The insurance company does not have a right to go on a fishing expedition as to your personal private information. The insurance company also does not have the right to ask you for mountains of information or for time periods completely unrelated to the claim.
The key to analyzing the requests is whether they are reasonable which is both a judgment call and a legal question. The insurance company will most likely argue that the requests are calculated to eliminate insurance fraud and to assist with the valuation of the claim. You are therefore best served by retaining a qualified Florida insurance lawyer to review the insurance company’s requests if you do not feel comfortable with the process or if you are unsure of your legal obligations and rights.
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.