Standard homeowner’s insurance policies include a provision requiring the homeowner to “[c]ooperate . . . in the investigation, settlement or defense of any claim or suit.” If you file a claim with your insurance company following a hurricane, tropical storm or other event resulting in damage to your home, what is the scope of your “duty to cooperate”?
As with many legal questions, the answer is, “It depends.”
Cooperating With Your Insurer During a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim
When you file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company, you may be asked to provide a significant amount of information, much of which may seem irrelevant for your claim. For example, it is not unusual for insurers to ask homeowners to provide copies of their past utility bills, tax returns and even bank account statements. Insurance companies will often seek to place other onerous burdens and restrictions on homeowners as well; and, when all you care about is repairing your home and getting back to your normal life as quickly as possible, these requests can seem to border on the absurd.
Nonetheless, you may have a duty to comply. In order to determine the whether your insurance company is making a legitimate request or simply trying to generate an excuse to deny coverage, it can be helpful to work with an experienced professional. For example, an experienced public adjuster should be able to explain why your insurance company’s request is (or isn’t) justified, and a lawyer who routinely handles insurance claim disputes will be able to help you understand whether you are putting yourself at risk by refusing to cooperate as requested. It may be that there is a legitimate justification for the request that is not obvious to the untrained eye; or, it may be that your suspicions are correct that your insurance company is overreaching.
In any case, it is important not to simply ignore or refuse your insurance company’s request for cooperation. You need to make an informed decision based upon sound advice, as violating your duty to cooperate could jeopardize your ability to collect payment under your policy.
What if I Have Questions about My Duty to Cooperate?
At the same time, it is important not to assume that you must comply with all requests you receive from your homeowner’s insurance company. If the reason for your insurance company’s request for “cooperation” is not obvious, you are well within your rights to ask for an explanation. If your insurance company cannot provide one, you may not need to comply (this is a matter you should discuss with an attorney), and it may be that your insurance company is fishing for information it can use to deny your claim.
Questions? Contact Us for a Confidential Consultation
If you have questions about your duty to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation of your homeowner’s insurance claim, our attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and obligations. To speak with one of our Broward County property damage lawyers in confidence, please call 954-928-9568 or request a consultation online today.