Suppose your insurance company denies your claim – whether for a fire loss, water damage, theft, or storm damage. How long do you have to file a lawsuit against the insurance company? Well, it may not be as long as you think, so be careful! The best thing you can do to make sure you preserve your insurance claim case is to consult with an insurance lawyer as soon as possible.
Insurance Policies Can Shorten Time for Filing Suit
While an insurance policy is a contract, and the “regular” deadline (a/k/a the statute of limitation) on contract claims in Tennessee is usually 6 years, your homeowners policy almost certainly has a much shorter “contractual statute of limitations” provision hidden in the fine print. In most cases, that shorter contractual deadline is only 1 year, and sometimes even shorter.
Immunity and Loss Settlement Periods in an Insurance Policy
An insurance policy usually provides for a period of immunity, or loss settlement period, during which you can’t sue the insurance company. This is to give the company time to investigate your claim before having to respond to it. Many policies provide for 45-60 day periods. In some cases, the immunity period may expire before they actually finish investigating your claim, or before you receive a payment or denial. Because of this, Tennessee case law provides that your time to file suit begins to run following the “accrual of the cause of action” against your insurance company.
What does “accrual of the cause of action” mean?
The “accrual of the cause of action” against the insurance company occurs – and thus the clock starts ticking on your deadline – when the immunity period expires, or when the insurance company denies your claim, whichever comes first.
In some cases, depending on what the policy says, an insurance company’s immunity period may be extended if it continues to actively investigate a claim and request information beyond the time stated in the policy. It is critical that you consult with an insurance attorney to determine the applicable deadlines in your insurance claim case.
Important Dates in an Insurance Claim
If you have an insurance claim, keep all of your claim-related papers in one place. Look at your policy and figure out the loss settlement period. If you don’t have a copy of your policy, ask for one. Keep any letters or emails you send to or receive from the insurance company. Record, be aware of, and keep up with the following dates:
- Date of loss
- Dates of claim payments
- Dates of correspondence or phone conversations with the insurance company
- Date of Denial
Don’t Wait Too Late to Involve an Insurance Lawyer
Determining insurance claim deadlines can be complicated, confusing, and depends on a number of factors. The insurance company understands how these time frames and deadlines work, and because adjusting insurance claims and reading insurance policies probably isn’t what you do for a living, you are at a disadvantage, especially in a complex or large loss insurance claim.
Call us sooner rather than later if you feel like your homeowners insurance claim is not being handled or paid properly.
- Insurance policy language is confusing and it doesn’t always mean what it sounds like.
- Your insurance adjuster is not your advocate.
- We know insurance law. We will apply insurance policy language to your advantage.
- We understand how insurance deadlines work.
- You’ve paid your premiums for all of these years. Don’t lose out on a technicality.
Let us help you with your insurance claim case. Call Patterson Bray at 901-372-5003. We have offices in Memphis and Nashville. Don’t wait too late and lose your legal right to recover.