How Long Do You Have To File A Claim?

People who own or have owned a home, car, or business have insurance on those items. The reason people buy insurance is to ensure their assets are protected in the event of an accident or an unexpected disaster. If someone is injured in an accident, whether it is a car accident, offshore accident, a slip and fall, or even if a hurricane or tsunami comes through, chances are the damage done should be covered by an insurance policy. Why wouldn’t the claim be covered? There are many reasons a claim will get denied, often times claims are denied because of avoidable reasons such as the claim was not filed in the time limit allowed by the law. The deadline to file depends on which law is applied. The law that is applied can be determined by many different factors. The Situs rule can apply, the business contract or insurance contract can determine which law is applied. The conflict of laws analysis, which interest is stronger, can determine which law will be used.

When filing a claim for an offshore incident, where it happened is very important for what law applies and therefore what deadline will be enforced. If an explosion happens offshore, where it happened is crucial. In law, the Situs of property is where the property is located for legal purposes. This is important in determining jurisdiction and which law will be applied. If it is off the coast of Louisiana, one law will apply, if it is off a different states coast it can be an entirely different law. Even the distance off the coastline can change which law is applied and can change the deadline drastically.

When filing a claim for an automobile accident, state law will have jurisdiction, but sometimes a conflict of laws can make it unclear which state will have jurisdiction. A conflict of laws principle is a set of rules for determining which law to apply in a case over which two or more contradictory laws seem to have jurisdiction. For example, if the car accident occurs in Georgia, but the driver of vehicle one is from Texas, the at fault driver of vehicle two is from Florida, but the cause of the accident was because of a tire blowout from a defective manufacturer from Tennessee. Which state law will apply? It will be left up to the courts to determine this. The state you thought would have jurisdiction might have a two year prescription, but the state the court decides has jurisdiction may only have a one year prescription.

When filing a flood claim, this is entirely different law. A flood policy is under Federal Law, and limited to as little as 60-180 days to file a claim. It is very important to file a proof of loss claim immediately since the deadline is rather short. The standard deadline to file a claim is 60 days, FEMA has at times extended those deadlines during certain disasters. During Hurricane Harvey and Irma, FEMA extended the deadline to 365 days from the date of the hurricane to file a proof of loss claim. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has the federal flood insurance program and they have published deadlines on their website. Do not rely on your agent to inform you of the deadlines, a first party policy is different from a federal flood policy in that the agents for the federal policy do not have to tell you the time frame in which you have to file.

As you can see, the law can be quite complex and not so black and white in all instances. When going through a traumatic ordeal of loss or injury it can be overwhelming to try and deal with the red tape that is often accompanied with filing claims. It is important to contact an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in the different deadlines and laws that apply. At Thornhill Law Firm, we have over 40 years of experience and are able to fight for you to make sure your claim is paid in full and in a timely manner.

This blog is intended for general education information, not to provide legal advice. If you have questions about your claim give our staff a call today at 985-641-5010.