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Understanding Proof of Loss Declarations
If you are dealing with a homeowners’ insurance claim, the last thing you want is more paperwork. Unfortunately, you will likely need to submit a sworn loss declaration before any settlement payments will be issued. In this article, we are going to explain the role of loss declarations in the insurance claim process and offer some tips for completing the paperwork.
What is a loss declaration?
Homeowner’s insurance places the burden of proof on the insured individual – which means that you will need to present evidence of your loss in the event of an accident. When you file a proof of loss declaration, you are submitting an official, notarized and sworn statement to your insurance provider about the degree of property damage you’ve suffered and the total value of that destroyed/damaged property.
Typically, the proof of loss form is a one-page document, which summarizes the important information required under your insurance policy. The insurance company uses this information as a basis for determining their obligations to you for the property loss. Once the proof of loss is submitted, the insurance company will review the claim and respond with their position on the matter.
Is there a difference between total loss declarations and proof of loss declarations?
Many people use the terms ‘total loss declaration’ and ‘proof of loss declarations’ interchangeably. Ultimately, this is simply a difference in phrasing. Both terms refer to the sworn proof of loss statement you will need to submit during the course of your claim.
When do I submit my proof of loss declaration?
You will submit your proof of loss statement early in the claims process, and you may need to request the document from your provider. Most insurance policies require you to file your form as soon as possible after the incident, but no later than the date specified in your policy (often 60 days). If you suspect you will be unable to complete the form in time, contact your insurance company to discuss extending the deadline.
What do I need to include in the declaration?
Before putting pen to paper, take a moment to review a copy of your insurance policy. Your policy will contain details that you will need to complete the proof of loss form. Typically, you will be asked to provide the following information:
- Date and time of the accident
- Whether the home was occupied at the time of the accident
- Ownership and title information for the property
- Total amount of coverage available under your insurance policy
- The estimated actual cash value of the damaged property
- Total value of the loss
- Total amount you are claiming under your policy
In addition to these details, you will also need to sign a sworn declaration that you were not involved in the accident. For illustration purposes, we have included an example proof of loss form below. (Please note: your form might look slightly different, depending on your insurance provider.)
How do I estimate the value of damaged property?
As you know, the proof of loss form will require you to estimate the value of your damaged property. It is extremely important that you complete this form accurately and to the best of your abilities. Misrepresenting the value of your loss can result in the underpayment, delay, or even denial of your claim. Be certain that you can provide evidence and facts that support your claim.
Every proof of loss declaration should start with a thorough household inventory. If you have created an inventory before (perhaps when you purchased your insurance policy), that can be a great place to start collecting information. You will want to be extremely organized throughout the inventory. If you need to compile and store physical receipts, consider investing in a binder specifically for this task. Most homeowners find that creating a spreadsheet is extremely useful. To give you an idea of where to start, we have created an example household inventory form below:
Creating a comprehensive inventory worksheet will be extremely useful when you are asked to substantiate the estimated value of your claim. As you can see, our spreadsheet includes the condition of the item at the time of loss, the brand/model where applicable, the cost to replace the item, the age of the item, the purchase location, and the room or area of the home where the item was being stored during the damaging accident.
How can a public adjuster help with my proof of loss form?
Creating a home inventory can be exhausting and emotionally draining, particularly after an accident. Furthermore, it may be difficult to determine your coverage limits if you are unfamiliar with the insurance industry’s vocabulary. Public adjusters can help you complete your proof of loss statement and represent your interests with the insurance company.
At Avner Gat Inc., we have spent decades in the insurance industry and gained the knowledge and expertise needed to guide you through the process. Our team of experienced adjusters will work hard to help you get properly compensated while you recover from a loss to your home. As public adjusters, our main objective is to get you paid every dollar you are owed under your policy.
We hope that this article has helped you understand what to expect from proof of loss declarations. If you have recently suffered a loss, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your claim. Our experts would be happy to review your situation and provide guidance for the claims process.