Policyholders all too often underestimate the importance of keeping a diary of the various events that occur during the course of a claim. Why is it important? First, it is a simple fact that memories fade with time. Although claims should be resolved promptly, they often are not. The process can be complicated with numerous adjusters, claims managers, forms, conflicting instructions, etc. Without making a record of what happened and when, important events become a blur. By the time the claim is denied, insureds often have forgotten very important conversations and even when they remember them, the details are fuzzy. For example, if in a bad faith claim one of the assertions is that the insurance company failed to act promptly and failed to respond to requests by the insureds, it is critical that the insured be able to show – with detail – exactly what the insurance company failed to do and the severity of the delay. If the insured complains that an adjuster did not return his phone calls, that complaint has a lot more merit in a subsequent bad faith lawsuit if the insured can list every single unreturned phone call and the reason the insured was calling in the first place.
So what should be recorded? Take detailed notes of all conversations with representatives of the insurance company. Write down their names, their phone numbers, what was discussed, the date the conversation occurred, etc. When an agreement is reached, write it down in your diary and confirm it in writing in a letter to the insurance company. Your own actions should also be documented. When you mail in your sworn proof of loss, document that action in your diary. When you timely submit your personal property inventory, write down the date it was submitted and who you gave it to. Most every insurance policy imposes certain duties on the policyholder. Read the policy, determine what your duties are, and document your efforts to comply with those duties.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that your claim is different and put off starting a diary because you assume the insurance company is going to do the right thing and pay your claim. If you’re going to assume anything, go the opposite direction and document everything. The little bit of extra effort will be worth it, and could be the difference in ultimately getting the claim paid.