Being truthful with your insurance carrier.
Our office frequently consults with people who have suffered a fire loss, theft or other property loss. On every occasion we are asked “do I have to cooperate with my insurance company?” The short answer is “yes”. The long answer is “absolutely yes, you must cooperate.” And, it is to your advantage to be completely truthful, no matter how much the insurance company might provoke your patience. When you buy insurance, you and the insurance company enter a contract, which is commonly referred to as an “insurance policy”. Every insurance policy requires complete cooperation in providing information to verify that the loss occurred, and the value of the loss. Every policy requires that you submit your statement of claim and proof of loss under oath. This means you swear to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. If you are untruthful it will give the insurance company grounds to deny your claim. It is not unheard of for people to report that after answering an insurance adjuster’s questions they feel as if they have been called in to be interrogated by the police. Sometimes requests for financial information or phone records seem to be irrelevant and burdensome. Nevertheless, accurate information must be provided. Moreover, it is important not to take requests for information personally. An insurance company has an obligation to verify that a policy holder is making a legitimate claim. Unfortunately, some people claim to have property that they never actually owned, or even destroy their own property and then try to collect insurance proceeds. Insurance claim adjusters play an important role in making sure to pay only people who have legitimate claims. Even seemingly insignificant misreporting of facts, such as not accurately reporting the giver of a gift, or overstating your income, or exaggerating the value of a lost item of property, can inadvertently give an insurance company a basis to question your claim. Consequently, always cooperate and be truthful. However, and this is very important, you as an insured have rights too. Your rights are many, and too numerous to list here. The bottom line is that an insurance company must act in good faith toward you. You can help insure that it does by documenting everything that the insurance company asks you to do, keeping copies of everything you are asked to turn over to an adjuster, including anything you are asked to sign. If an insurance company records your statement or records a conversation, ask it to preserve the recording in case you later need a copy. Do not hesitate to ask the insurance company to put instructions in writing to you so that there can be no dispute as to anything you are asked to do. Lastly, do not hesitate to give our staff a call if you are at all uncertain about your insurance claim rights and responsibilities. Our staff is always willing to arrange for you to consult with one of our attorneys.