All property insurance policies contain a provision obligating an insured policyholder to perform certain duties after a property loss occurs. One of those requirements is an insured’s duty to produce records and other documents to their insurance company. Following an insured reporting a claim for property loss, the insurer will typically send a written request to the insured for a copy of all records, documents, receipts, and/or proofs of purchase for all property claimed to be damaged. The insurance company will also typically request a copy of any and all contracts, estimates, proposals, and/or invoices pertaining to repair, replacement, or mitigation services provided to the property both before and after the claimed loss. The insurance company may also request an insured to produce photographs and videography depicting the condition of the property prior to the loss, damages sustained as a result the loss, and repairs made after the loss.
Notwithstanding the insurance company’s request for production of documents, some insured property owners may not maintain records or receipts for purchases and services that pre-date the loss by several years and, therefore, would not be able to produce any records. Similarly, in a situation where an insured sustains a total property loss resulting from hurricane devastation, there would be no way for the insured to produce anything since the insured’s records and/or receipts were most likely destroyed. Failure to produce requested documents such as records and receipts may cause a delay in the investigation of an insured’s claim and may result in an insured’s breach of the policy’s post loss obligations and duty to cooperate in the insurance company’s investigation, potentially leading to a claim denial.
But, fear not. If an insured no longer possess records of services rendered to the property either pre- or post-loss, or retains receipts from dated pre-loss purchases, an insurance company cannot deny a claim strictly on those grounds. Most often, the insurance company will still be able to continue its claim investigation and resort to alternative methods of obtaining information to have been derived from the requests records or documents. Of course, if an insured were to willfully refuse to produce a requested document in its possession, however, that refusal would most likely trigger a claim denial for breach of duty to produce requested records and failure to cooperate in the insurance company’s claim investigation.
No matter if you are an insured who accurately and meticulously maintains records and receipts, or you are an insured that lost, no longer possesses, or refuses to maintain records and receipts, we always recommend that you read your policy to ensure that you are familiar with all post-loss obligations under the policy.