In Episode Three, veteran radio host Stirling Faux talks to Murphy Battista LLP lawyers Scott Stanley and Kevin Gourlay about the nuts and bolts of insurance law with a focus on the importance of understanding what your insurance policy covers and more importantly what it does not (exclusions and limitations). The three also discuss what to watch out for in insurance policies and why certain claims get denied.
Scott and Kevin note that part of the problem with insurance contracts is their complexity and the fact that many people either don’t read or don’t understand the fine print. They raise the point that the most common reason for denial is misrepresentation, which can arise from something as simple as an honest mistake in answering a question on the insurance form. Scott and Kevin stress that, where insurance contracts are concerned, it is critical to go beyond making best efforts to accurately disclose your circumstances. Even if your broker takes you through a questionnaire, make sure to review the questionnaire before you sign off to ensure that you have fully and accurately responded to all the questions. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask your broker for further explanation.
Scott and Kevin also recommend seeking out an insurance broker who is willing to spend time with you to understand your needs and explain exactly what your policy does and does not cover. For example, if you are a homeowner, you might be unaware of occupancy requirements in your insurance policy that place time limits on how long you can leave your home vacant before the insurance policy becomes void. This may be of particular concern to “snow birds” and people who frequently take extended vacations. There are similar occupancy requirements that pertain to home renovations. Many people are unaware of this and do not take steps to review their coverage. A good insurance broker should flat these types of issues for you.
Scott and Kevin also discussed the role of an independent adjuster in the claims process. For example, when a home burns down an independent adjuster may be hired to assess the claim and value the loss for the insurance company. In such cases, it is important to remember who the adjuster works for and that their role is to first find that there is no reason to deny the claim and only then look to value the loss. You should also be aware that in cases where you have signed a reservation of rights letter, even if the adjuster finds in your favour, the insurance company is not automatically required to pay out.
If you have been denied coverage under a policy of insurance or you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and you are required to deal with ICBC to get your claim resolved, the lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP are happy to offer a free consultation about a potential claim.