Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 6, 2010

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Insurance Question from Great Falls, MT

Asked on 06/06/2010

Can you get negative results on your insurance just by asking about submitting a claim? My mother fell in our driveway due to uneven pavement and wants me to inquire about submitting a claim. Would that negatively impact our policy even if we don't formally submit a claim? Is there a time limit (it happened in March) and what proof would she need to show?

Answer given on June 10, 2010

Some insurance companies do have a policy of considering an inquiry as an actual claim submission.  While I don’t think this is a correct way of serving customers, you should speak to your insurance agent about this.  You do not have to give the agent any details, simply ask them if your company considers an inquiry to be a claim.  Also, if your mother lives with you, there may not be any coverage available for her injuries.  The liability portion of your insurance is for injuries to others, not household members. 

As far as the time frame involved, you are expected to submit a claim in a timely manner.  While there is no set time indicated in the policy other than timely, or as soon as possible, there are ways to explain your delay.  For proof, a medical bill for your mother on or near the date of the fall should be sufficient to prove she was injured.

An additional point to consider is the fact that your driveway has uneven pavement.  This is a safety hazard, as you have seen, and the insurance company will most likely ask you to repair or replace the driveway, or the area that is uneven, to avoid future losses.  If you do not make the repairs, the insurance company will have the right to non renew your insurance due to what is called an “increase in hazard”.  Therefore, if you submit the claim, be prepared to have to make the repairs.


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