When shopping around for insurance quotes, keep in mind that once you have decided on the policy that’s right for you, you should read the policy. Insurance is one of those things that you buy and hope you’ll never need. But, in the event that you suffer a loss, you will want to make sure you hold up your end of the contract. People oftentimes forget that an insurance policy is a contract. In exchange for certain actions from you (for example, the payment of premium and proper notice of a covered loss), the insurance company will perform certain actions (for example, may defend you in a covered lawsuit, pay a covered loss). Thus, it is important to make sure you know what your obligations and responsibilities are under the insurance policy so that you comply with your contractual obligations. If you don’t, the insurance company may deny coverage that you would otherwise have had.
Although each insurance policy is different, there are some general requirements that are contained in most policies. For example, insurance policies generally require timely notice of a loss, claim or “occurrence” defined as an accident. Some policies require timely notice of an offense that might result in a claim. Policies may require notice “promptly,” “immediately” or “as soon as practicable” or may give a set number of days within which you must provide notice. What is considered timely will depend on the wording of your policy, the facts and circumstances of the notice you provide and the law of your state. However, it is safe to say that the sooner you provide notice to your insurer of a loss, claim, potential claim, lawsuit, etc., the safer you will be. Insurance policies also generally require you to immediately provide copies of any lawsuit filed against you. You should do so immediately for your own benefit, as the insurance company will retain an attorney to defend you if the policy requires the insurer to do so.
Your insurance policy is the contract between you and your insurer. After buying the policy, be sure to read it before putting it away in a safe place. In the event of a loss, you will want to make sure you comply with all conditions of coverage, including providing the insurer with timely notice of a loss.