Weilers LLP

What is a Proof of Loss?

What is a Proof of Loss?

June 13, 2024

By Brian Babcock 

Have you delivered your Proof of Loss?

A Proof of Loss is a standard form declaration that is required to make a claim against your insurance company. (Statutory Accident Benefits are an exception – they have their own forms)

Why is that important?

If you fail to deliver a proof of loss, you may not be able to get paid, or to sue.

Insurers may waive the requirement of a proof of loss and simply write a cheque if the claim is simple and straightforward, but that is the exception. Even in straightforward claims such as car repairs, the insurer is likely to ask you to sign a proof to wrap up the claim.

Where the proof becomes particularly important are in complex claims or claims with disagreements. In these cases, the insurer is likely to require that the proof of loss include an oath or affirmation as to the truth of the contents. Though an oath or affirmation adds seriousness to the occasion, lying on any proof of loss is a serious offence.

In addition to possible criminal charges, any material misrepresentation on the proof might void the entire claim. For example, exaggerating the value of personal property or contents destroyed in a building fire may result in no payment of the value of the destroyed building.

The adjuster for your insurer will provide you with a blank proof of loss but will not help you fill it out except in simple friendly situations. If there is any possible disagreement, you are on your own. However, public adjusters or lawyers may help you with the document. It is part of the service available, for instance, at Weilers LLP.

Regardless of who you might get to help complete the proof of loss, it is YOUR document, so it is your responsibility to make sure that it is submitted, and that it is as accurate as possible. This includes estimates where exact values are unknown, but they need to be reasonable estimates. Did you really have that thousand dollar plus stove, or are you trying to sneak through an upgrade? Not worth the risk.

Another thing to know about the proof of loss is that it starts the clock running for the insurer to pay you. Though the insurer may pay at any time, once you give them the proof of loss they have only 60 days to complete their investigation and issue a cheque. If they fail to do so, you may then sue.

So, you should deliver a proof of loss at least 61 days before the time limit to commence your claim?

What if you are within 61 days of the deadline, but have not filed the proof? Do so as soon as possible. Start your lawsuit on time. In the lawsuit you ask the court for “relief from forfeiture”, the process by which an innocent breach of the insurance policy might be excused. Where the insurer has been provided with the information they need, but the formal proof of loss is missing, relief is more likely than in other situations.

Although this relief is possible, it becomes one more challenge in a lawsuit, so is to be avoided if possible – do everything you can to submit your proof of loss in a timely fashion.

If you require help dealing with your insurer, you may give us a call at Weilers LLP. We do not help you for free, but our fees are often a good investment. If we cannot help you economically, we will let you know.