Date Of Loss
What is it?
A Date of Loss is an insurance term used to classify the date upon which damage, or a loss, occurred. An insurance policy starts at a certain time on a certain day, as set in the policy declarations page, and expires at a certain time on a certain day. In order for a loss to be "covered" by an insurance policy, the loss must have occurred during the policy period - that is, the period of time the insurance policy is in effect - not before or after the policy period. The Date of Loss determines if the loss is covered by a policy or not.
How To Determine A Date Of Loss?
For some types of damage or disaster, the Date of Loss is easy to determine. For instance, in a hurricane claim, the Date of Loss is probably the date the hurricane hit. Or for damage caused by a fire, the Date of Loss is the date of the fire. It’s a little harder to determine the Date of Loss in a sinkhole, because damage can be gradual, or it can occur very quickly. For instance, a crack may slowly form and grow over time. Or, it might just appear overnight.
Further complicating the issue is that most homeowners don’t really notice subtle damage to their home, even though they might pass it daily. It is very common for a homeowner to not notice a crack in his or her wall, for instance, until it’s pointed out by a neighbor or family member during a party or gathering. Other times the homeowner might have noticed a crack, in the driveway for instance, but didn’t pay attention to it and believed the crack to be "normal."
Sinkhole Light Bulb Moment
Attorney John Byrne often advises that the Date of Loss, in a sinkhole claim, is the day when a homeowner first realizes something non-normal is happening to his or her home. The day when, so to speak, a light bulb goes off over the homeowner’s head and they think, "Is this more than normal settlement?" Many times Dates of Loss can be weeks or months earlier, for instance if a homeowner notices a crack months ago, but watches it over time to see if it changes or grows. Other times the Date of Loss might be the day a claim is called into and filed with the insurance company - perhaps the homeowner noticed something while mowing the yard and filed a claim right away.
But be careful in determining your Date of Loss - and don’t let the insurance company adjusters trick you into an earlier Date of Loss. A common trick of insurance companies and their adjusters is to ask questions and probe a homeowner’s memory, hoping to get the homeowner to guess that he or she might have noticed a crack, for instance, much earlier - before the current insurance policy became effective, or perhaps before the homeowner bought the home!
Remember, an insurance company is liable for damage that occurs during the policy period! If damage occurred before the policy period started, the prior policy limits are in effect, which are typically lower dollar coverage amounts! And if the insurance company adjuster can trick the homeowner into admitting the possibility that the crack, for instance, miht have been there when the homeowner bought the home, the insurance company might use that as an excuse to deny the claim outright!
The safest course of action might be to stick firmly with the idea that the Date of Loss is the day when something happened - a light bulb goes off, a realization occurs, somebody says something, whatever it is - and the homeowner begins to question if something odd is happening to his or her home.
Confusing And Frightening
Filing a claim for sinkhole damage can be confusing and frightening. You don’t have to go it alone - you can have the knowledge and experience of the Byrne Law Group on your side! Attorney John Byrne has personally litigated hundreds of sinkhole claims, from start to finish. Call him today for a FREE no cost, no obligation legal consultation at 813-413-6565. Gain an understanding of what the sinkhole claim process is like and learn what to expect. Even if you don’t hire the Byrne Law Group, John Byrne is always available to discuss your case with you personally. Call today!