If you have an insurance claim, you sometimes hear the insurance company ask you for a “Proof of Loss.” But does anyone know what it is?
The insurance company may have a form for you to complete. Its usually a one or two page form that is entitled “Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss”. It has blanks to complete and then a space for you to sign it, swearing to its contents, sometimes in front of a notary. The insurance company may tell you that you MUST sign their form, but they are wrong.
California Insurance Code section 552 lets you give the insurance company the same information without it being on their “proof of loss form.” California courts have upheld this and have said that as long as you substantially comply, you have done what you are supposed to do. The purpose of the proof of loss is to give the insurance company enough information to verify that a loss has occurred. Therefore, giving them the information, in whatever form, is all that is required.
Generally, the insurance company needs to be given this information to satisfy the purpose of verifying a loss:
- Your name
- Your policy number
- The type of loss that occurred (theft, fire, etc…)
- The location of the loss (usually your address)
- The date of loss
- The property that was damaged (your house, your personal property, your fence, etc…)
- The amount of insurance that you have (its on your declarations page, something we will discuss soon)
- The amount of your damage
- Possibly, the amount of the actual cash value of your claim (again, to be discussed soon)
- Your signature
If you give your insurance company that information, you should be safe. I would send it via certified mail, return receipt requested so you can prove when they receive it. But, once you do that, you have met your obligations.