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When to notify your insurance carrier of a claim
July 24, 2019
When to notify your insurance carrier of a claim
            As soon as you receive a claim notice, typically a letter, for sure.  But I suggest you notify the carrier as soon as you think you might get a claim.  Let the carrier know your customer has suffered a burglary or fire.  You know about it, so should your carrier.
            I know that your broker and carrier may tell you that until you get a claim letter or served with a summons, don’t notify your carrier.  Your broker will explain that your carrier may open a file and the claim, which has not yet been brought, may get charged against your loss run.  That will affect your future premium and may actually cause a carrier to drop you.  Yes, that would be extreme, especially if no claim has yet been brought.
            It might make sense to approach the issue from the other direction.  What happens if you don’t notify your carrier of a claim soon enough?  You’re screwed, that’s what happens.  Every insurance policy requires that you promptly notify the carrier of a claim.  “Late notice” is grounds for disclaimer of coverage.  In most jurisdictions Late Notice must result in some prejudice to the insurance carrier before disclaimer of coverage will be effective.  You want to chance that?  Why, because your premium may go up?  Balance that on a battle for coverage or no coverage at all.  Remember, your carrier isn’t going to complain about late notice if the claim is some minor claim.  But if the claim is significant enough, and you are with one of the carriers that care more about themselves than you [and there are a number of them] then the risk of disclaimer based on late notice increases dramatically.  
            If you know of a possible claim notify your insurance carrier, not just your broker.  It’s your insurance carrier that needs to be notified, not your broker.  Check your policy and you will see a provision for notice to the carrier.  You can let them know that you are aware of a potential claim, tell them the details that you know of, and let the carrier know that no actual claim has been brought yet, but you are putting them on notice.
            If or when the claim does come be sure to notify the carrier.  You will likely already have a claim number and a claims representative.  
            Be sure to ask that K&K be assigned to consult with you and assist with the defense strategy, handle the claim if it’s in New York, or be engaged to consult with the carrier’s defense counsel in other states.  If the carrier says no, look for another carrier when your policy is up.  Why?  Because K&K will protect you, period.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301