Is There a Hidden Deadline in Your Homeowners Policy?

In prior posts, we have commented on the standard two-year time limit for suit found in many Minnesota homeowners policies that effectively serves to shorten the time in which you may make a claim for insurance proceeds. The two-year time limit for suit is generally enforceable and acts as a contractual statute of limitation.

But, there are other deadlines tucked away in some homeowners policies that can affect your ability to recover the full amount of the loss for which you may otherwise be entitled to recover.

Most policies have a prompt notice requirement.  This requires an insured to give prompt, timely, or reasonable notice either after the loss or after becoming aware of the loss. These requirements usually do not state a specific, identifiable timeframe, which creates a gray area for insureds, insurers and their lawyers to argue about. In order to avoid this issue, you should notify your insurer as soon as possible after a loss.

Some policies have a 180-day repair provision, which purports to mandate that all repairs be completed within 180 days after the loss. This provision usually does not make exceptions for disagreements that may arise between the insurer or the insured, such as scheduling issues or weather events that may delay the repairs. Insurers do not often use such a provision to deny payments, but such provisions have been upheld in the courts absent evidence from an insured explaining why the provision should not be enforced.

Similarly, many policies now have a one-year repair provision which operates the same, but with a longer amount of time to perform repairs.

These are some of the most common deadlines, but every policy is different.  In order to protect yourself after a loss, you should give prompt notice of the loss to your insurer and get a copy of your policy. Ask the adjuster about any deadlines and make every attempt to comply, if possible, to comply. If compliance with those provisions is not possible, explain the reasons to your insurer, and seek an extension or waiver of those provisions.

As always, Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC stands ready to represent you in your insurance claim.

-Bradley Hammond, Attorney @ Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC

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