Introduction to Duties and Obligations under Massachusetts HO-3 Policy

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If you have suffered a loss to your home, you likely have filed a claim with your insurance company in order to have those damages covered. While the insurance company may ask you certain things to do and provide concerning your loss, you, as the homeowner, need to be aware that you have certain duties and obligations under your Massachusetts Homeowners Three (HO-3) policy.

As the HO-3 policy is the most common policy in Massachusetts, this post will only focus on some general duties and obligations you may be expected to do in the event you suffer a loss. Your duties and obligations may be slightly different under your particular HO-3 and your particular insurance company.

In case of a loss to covered property, you are generally required to:

  1. Give prompt notice to the insurance company or their agent.
  2. Notify the police in case of loss by theft. You should also notify the police in the event of a vandalism loss or damage.
  3. Protect the property from further damage.
  4. If repairs to the property are required to prevent further damage you must make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property. You should also keep an accurate record of repair expenses as you will likely be required to provide that to the insurance company.
  5. Cooperate with the insurance company in any investigation of your claim.
  6. Prepare an inventory of damaged personal property showing the quantity, description, actual cash value, and amount of loss. You should attach all available bills, receipts and related documents that justify the figures in your inventory.
  7. Allow the insurance company to visit and inspect the damaged property. This could be requested once or many times. You have an obligation to allow the insurance company to view the damaged property as often as the insurance company reasonably requires.
  8. Provide the insurance company with any records and documents they request and permit them to make copies.
  9. Submit to an examination under oath if you are asked to do so. If you are asked to submit to an examination under oath, you must attend while not in the presence of another “insured” who is named on your policy.Send to your insurance company a signed sworn proof of loss.
  10. This must be done within 60 days after they request you provide one. The sworn proof of loss should set forth, to the best of your knowledge and belief:
    1. The time and cause of loss;
    2. The interests of all “insureds” and all others in the property involved;
    3. Any and all liens on the property;
    4. Other insurance which may cover the loss;
    5. Changes in title or occupancy of the property during the term of the policy;
    6. Specifications of damaged buildings and detailed repair estimates;
    7. The inventory of damaged or stolen personal property;
    8. Receipts for additional living expenses incurred and records that support the fair rental value loss; and
    9. Evidence or affidavit that supports any claim under Credit Card, Electronic Fund Transfer Card Or Access Device, Forgery And Counterfeit Money provision of the policy.

While this list has identified several areas where you, as the homeowner, have duties and obligations under your insurance policy, if you suffer a loss, you should also be aware that the insurance policy also creates an obligation upon the insurance company to pay your claim when liability becomes reasonably clear. Should the insurance company fail to pay your claim when liability becomes reasonably clear, they may be in violation of the Massachusetts consumer protection law Chapter 93A which may expose them to multiple damages, costs, and attorneys fees.

If you have suffered a loss, have completed everything that your insurance company has asked to review, and the insurance company has not made a decision concerning your claim, please consult with an attorney who is familiar and experienced with homeowner insurance policies and claims to advise you on your legal rights and offer you alternatives to protect those rights.

DISCLAIMER: This and other segments posted on this website are offered for informational and discussion purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. This office only represents homeowners and property owners. We do not represent insurance companies. The information contained in this segment should not be considered to be legal advice.