Unless you’re a personal injury attorney, or you have obtained compensation after an accident, you may not know how crucial insurance is to receiving payment for the expenses and impacts you incurred.
Insurance policies pay nearly every personal injury or wrongful death settlement or award. You may file a lawsuit against an uninsured person, and even obtain a judgment in your favor. However, collecting on that judgment would likely be impossible, as most people cannot afford to pay accident expenses out-of-pocket.
Unfortunately, obtaining compensation for your injuries means filing a claim with a large company that an insurance adjuster will evaluate. The adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money by avoiding large payouts.
With your claim, you probably must complete is a sworn statement in proof of loss. While the title of the document sounds daunting, the information contained in it is actually the basic details of your accident along with evidence to prove your loss. Failing to fill out this document accurately or completely can result in a delay or denial of your claim.
What Is a Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss?
A sworn statement in proof of loss is a formal statement most insurance companies required you file a compensation claim. The document prevents insurance fraud by substantiating the value of the insured’s costs through official documentation and a notarized signature.
The information provided in the statement includes:
- The coverage amount available at the time of the loss.
- The date and cause of the loss. When you provide your statement on the details of the incident that resulted in the loss, be sure to include details. For example, if the statement involves a car accident, you will want to name the approximate location where the accident occurred, the direction you were traveling, whether your view was clear, your estimated speed when the accident occurred, and the actions that led to the accident (such as someone cutting you off or failing to stop at the light).
- Documents that support the value of the losses claimed, such as hospital bills, an invoice for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident, or even the amount of work you missed because of an injury along with proof of the earnings and benefits you lost during your time away from work.
- The names and contact information for the party filing the claim.
- The names and contact information for parties having an interest in the claim, such as the bank that holds the mortgage to your home or the title to your car.
- The policy number of the policy against which you are filing the claim.
How to Fill out a Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss
If you are planning to file a claim against an insurance company, follow the steps listed below:
- Obtain a copy of the Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss from the insurance company.
- Fill out the required information, including policy number, insurance agent’s name, insurance agency, and the issue and expiration dates for the policy. On the line requesting the name of your insurance company, place that information next to the words “to the” and the city where your insurance is located alongside the words “of” so that the line reads “To the (insurance company) of (location).
- Add your name and address, and the cause of your loss. For example, you can write “fire” or “car accident.”
- Complete the time of origin area of the document.
- List the monetary damages you are claiming. As you must have the documentation to prove these expenses, never guess a number for this portion of the form as it can result in a delay or denial of your claim.
- Bring the document to a notary public. Sign and date the document in front of the notary.
- Return your notarized sworn statement in proof of loss to your insurance carrier.
Common Mistakes Made When Filling out the Document
While many people find the sworn statement in proof of loss easy to complete, others find the document confusing. You must completely understand what the insurance company wants and avoid mistakes that could result in the insurance company rejecting your claim.
Some of the most common mistakes made when completing a sworn statement in proof of loss include:
- Missing the deadline. Most insurance companies have a deadline by which you must file your claim or they won’t consider it. The deadline for filing this document to your insurance provider is generally 60 days. Depending on the laws in your state, the clock either begins ticking when you suffered the loss or when the insurance company requests the form. Either way, you should be aware that it is your responsibility to submit the required form through the process provided by your insurance company, even if they do not provide you with the form. Many insurance companies will grant exceptions to the deadline for hardship. However, you must formally request the extension.
- Failing to obtain documentation for expenses. If you plan to include an expense in your claim, you must also have documentation to prove you incurred the expense. Many claimants keep a folder specifically for documentation relating to their claim so that they keep all of the information in one place and easily accessible.
- Failing to know the insurance laws in your state. Insurance companies are in business to make money, and they do this is by avoiding full payouts on claims. They also do this by putting forth requirements that state law does not impose. You need to know your insurance company’s requirements and the laws that help you avoid being mistreated or having your compensation delayed or denied.
- Failing to include documentation of your losses. The insurance company will not settle your claim if they do not have proof of the expenses you want them to cover.
- Failing to obtain notarization of the document. Most insurance companies will not accept the signature as yours unless a notary also signs the document.
What Happens After I Submit a Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss?
After you have submitted your sworn statement in proof of loss to the insurance provider, these actions will likely occur:
- The insurance provider reviews your sworn statement and the attached documentation.
- The insurance provider will then review the policy in question to determine if it covers the type of damages that are the subject of the claim.
- If the insurance provider chooses to deny the claim, it will notify you by mail along with an official reason for the denial. Insurance companies can deny claims because you missed the deadline for providing the sworn statement in proof of loss; the claim exceeds the policy limit; the policy doesn’t cover the loss; the insurance company believes you caused the loss; the insurance company believes you made the claim fraudulently; or you delayed seeking treatment after becoming injured. However, to be clear, the insurance company cannot deny your claim simply because they don’t like the amount of money you are requesting.
- The insurance company assigns a financial value to each item in the claim based on the actual cash value of the item or the cost of replacing it. If the adjuster feels as though the policy does not cover a specific item in the claim, it will receive a value of zero.
- The insurance carrier totals the values that have been assigned and issues a settlement amount.
- You will have the opportunity to review the settlement offer with your attorney and decide whether to accept the amount offered.
- If you decide that the amount offered does not fairly compensate your loss, your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf for a higher offer.
- If you accept the settlement, you will agree to the amount and receive the funds. Make certain that the insurance company offered you enough to cover your losses, because you cannot go back and ask for more money.
- If the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement for your claim, your attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit in civil court. Settlement negotiations could continue after you file the lawsuit, and even after the trial begins, until the court renders a judgment.
An Attorney Can Help With Your Claim
Injuries and property damage are complicated issues to deal with. This is especially so when filing a claim against an insurance company—even your own. An experienced attorney can use his or her deep understanding of the legal process involved in recovering compensation to ensure that you obtain the maximum amount in your case.
Among the many services your attorney can provide as you seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your accident are:
- Answers to your legal questions and guidance on the process of seeking compensation during a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
- Establishing a value to your case that is based on the expenses and impacts you have incurred as well as those you will likely incur in the future. By attaching a value to your case, you can better determine whether the insurance company offers you a fair settlement.
- Assistance in preparing your claim, including your sworn statement in proof of loss. Your attorney not only knows the evidence and documentation that you need to prove your claim, but also the laws that protect you from insurance company mistreatment.
- Skilled settlement negotiations with the insurance adjuster in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting an offered settlement.
- If the insurance company fails to offer you a settlement that fairly compensates you, your attorney and you will decide when to file a personal injury lawsuit in court, with the insurance company as a named defendant.
- The timely filing of your court-required paperwork, as well as attendance and representation at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- The collection and organization of the evidence and witness testimony to prove your case in court.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing arguments, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.