Homeowners: What You Need To Know About Liability Claims

Green house with porch

If you are a homeowner who has liability insurance, welcome to our website.

Most homeowners we work with are experiencing their first claim. Accordingly, they have many questions about what to do and what might happen as a result of the claim. We have put together this FAQ to answer some of the most common questions we receive from homeowners when someone makes a liability claim against them.

The Basics

If you have liability coverage, your policy Declarations Page will include a section that lists your available coverage limits. There will be limits for your dwelling, other structures, contents, and additional living expenses. Those limits will not apply when you have a liability claim.

When someone makes a claim against you because they were hurt, or if they have damaged property, you will need to look under “Coverage L” and “Coverage M.”

Coverage L is the liability limit. That is the most your insurance company will pay for a single occurrence. This part of the policy pays someone else when your own negligence results in injuries or damages to them. This part of the policy also covers legal defense bills for you.

Coverage M is for medical payments. This part pays for out-of-pocket medical expenses if someone (not you) is injured while on your property. Coverage M will usually pay even if you were not negligent.

With this information as a guide, review the FAQ below for additional answers:

  • Am I legally required to do anything?
    • Your insurance policy is a contract and requires that you do certain things in the event of a claim. For example, you must report it to the insurance company right away. You must also cooperate with your insurance company by providing it with any statements or documentation it requires. Typically, these requirements are spelled out in a section of the policy titled “CONDITIONS – DUTIES AFTER LOSS,” “WHAT YOU MUST DO IN CASE OF LOSS,” or similar language.
  • Should I talk to the injured person?
    • Generally, no. If the claimant is a close friend or family member, it is best if you simply avoid talking about the claim. However, you don’t have to shun or disown anyone who may be close to you. If an attorney is representing the person making the claim, the above rule is particularly important, and you should refrain from dealing directly with that attorney. Instead, refer the attorney to your insurance company and the adjuster assigned to the case.
  • Can they sue me?
    • Yes. The only legal bar against someone attempting a lawsuit is the statute of limitations, which is the time limitation for bringing legal action. Whether the suit has merit will be determined throughout the course of the lawsuit. If the case is very weak, the suit may not go far at all. For covered claims, liability coverage will almost always cover the cost of a defense attorney for you.
  • How can I tell if it is a scam?
    • You may have suspicions that a claim is fraudulent. If that is the case, make sure you describe your concerns to your insurance company and the adjuster or independent firm assigned to your case.
  • What should I do if it was my fault?
    • If you feel that something you did (or failed to do) caused harm to someone or their property, let your own insurance company know so that it can make the correct decision regarding the claim. Your policy is designed to pay for claims that are your fault, as long as you do not intentionally cause harm to someone else.
  • What can I do if it wasn’t my fault?
    • Always be upfront and honest with your insurance company. The company is on your side and needs to know all of the facts. If you did not cause harm to someone else, describe the circumstances of what happened to your insurance company.
  • Will my rates increase?
    • In general, most homeowners’ policies will not see a rate increase due to individual claims on that policy. Instead, rates for homeowners’ policies usually see increases when a wide geographical area is affected by property damage claims from unusual storm activity. If you have several liability claims, an insurance company may be more prone to non-renewing your policy. This means you would be forced to find a new insurance company.
  • Who can give me the answers to my questions?
    • Your best contact will be the adjuster assigned to your case. If our firm is handling your claim, call any time. We can answer your questions about the claim.
  • Are all claims the same?
    • Almost never! One of the crazy aspects of this business is that no two claims are exactly the same. That is why it is so important that we get all the facts from everyone involved.

We Are Here to Help

Our job is to get the facts so that your insurance company can protect you. We understand that you may have many questions and concerns about what will happen next. We respect our client insurers and their customers, and we will do everything we can to ensure that you are kept informed throughout the claim process.

Call us any time if you have questions about your liability claim.