After applying for a claim, insurance companies sometimes request a substantial amount of information, which means that many Coloradans feel overwhelmed. However, failure to respond to requests (eg "failure to cooperate") may cost an insured person's claims on the insurance. The US District Court, the District of Colorado, recently discussed this issue in its review of a summary judgment in Cribari v. Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company . 1
As Judge Judge Neureiter discusses, the Federal District of Colorado has determined that failure to cooperate may constitute a breach of insurance terms if it causes a significant and substantial disadvantage to an insurance company in the investigation and adjustment of an insurance claim.
In Cribari the plaintiff was injured in a car accident and applied for an assurance of insurance companies, Allstate, and claims for bad faith and unreasonable delay and denial of insurance benefits. Allstate invoked a failure to cooperate with the plaintiff's legal claims and sought summary court and stated that she did not comply with the requests for information it had sent to her during the investigation.
Although this case originates from uninsured motor benefits, the discussion on the obligation to cooperate also applies to home insurance and home insurance claims.
In his defense, Allstate claimed that the applicant failed to cooperate because she had not provided any documents that required it to make a claim for insurance claims, and she did not file certain records until after the filing of a lawsuit. In response to this defense, the applicant stated that she had substantially complied with all the requests of her insurer by providing a number of the requested documents and documents and by providing alternative means of gathering additional information and records – even go as far as possible to arrange a meeting between her doctor and Allstate.
Ultimately, Allstate Summary Judgment was denied which the judge ruled that a number of actual issues would be presented to a jury and made a decision as to whether the applicant's participation in this case was decisive as well. However, the magistrate's assessment was transparent and I wanted to share a few takeaways that I found beneficial.
First, when you receive inquiries from your insurance company, you do not ignore the request. As in Cribari while the plaintiff had not provided any document that Allstate requested, she provided a large number of documents, and the court considered this work positive.
Second, if you do not understand or agree with an inquiry, ask your insurance company to explain what they are looking for and / or seek help from a lawyer, but do not ignore the request.
Insurance company inquiries need to be limited to information that helps it make a decision decision, which does not open the door to an investigation of all aspects of your life. Again, as in Cribari alternative methods were offered to obtain information such as meeting with the plaintiff's doctor and providing alternative actions to what Allstate specifically requested, as the court again considered positive. Finally, at its simplest level, the obligation to cooperate means that the communication channels are active and open and document your efforts.
The insurance claims can be long and time consuming. After all the time and effort that it will likely require from an insured, your insurance company does not give a reason to deny your claim that is completely lacking in your loss. Communicate regularly, provide answers and / or consult legal help if the request becomes too much to handle.
1 Cribari v. Allstate Fire & Cas. Ins. Co. No. 16-2450, 2019 WO 1296581 (D. Colo, March 21, 2019).