When In Doubt, Notify Your Insurer Of Any Possible Claim

Most insurance policies require the insured to notify his insurer of a claim within a reasonable amount of time. An insured’s breach of a notice provision in an insurance policy by failing to give reasonable notice will defeat the right of the insured to recover under the policy.

If your insurer denies a claim and the dispute ends in a lawsuit, Illinois courts will look at four factors to determine whether an insurer has been given notification within a reasonable amount of time: (1) the specific language of the policy’s notice provision; (2) the insured’s sophistication in commerce and insurance matters; (3) the insured’s awareness of an event that may trigger insurance coverage; (4) the insured’s diligence in ascertaining whether policy coverage is available; and (5) prejudice to the insurer.

Notice provisions in an insurance policy are not merely technical requirements but, rather, conditions precedent to the triggering of the insurer’s contractual duties. Timely notice allows the insurer to make a proper and thorough investigation and to gather and preserve evidence.

West American Insurance Company v. Yorkville National Bank, Docket No. 108285 (September 23, 2010).