What is a proof of loss form and how do I fill one out?

7 minute read Published on Apr 30, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

What is a proof of loss form and how do I fill one out?

If damage occurs and you must file a claim with your insurance provider, you must first fill out a proof of loss form. It is a form that nearly all insurance companies require, and it is designed to outline the value of the policyholder’s loss to the insurer. Whether you are filling out a proof of loss form for home insurance, car insurance, or business insurance, doing so is an integral part of the claims process.

Proof of loss form explained

Before we dive into the process of filling one out, let’s first explain more clearly what a proof of loss form is. A policyholder must fill out a proof of loss form when a piece of property covered by their insurance policy is damaged, and they need to file a claim. As part of the claims process, you must submit a proof of loss form detailing the exact item(s) lost or damaged and what specific damage they suffered.

These forms are typically one page long and often include evidence of the damage, e.g. photographic proof, as well as the estimated value of the damaged items. In some cases, a police report may also serve as evidence. You can find out if a police report is required for your claim by calling your insurance company.

In the insurance world, it is up to the policyholder to explain and prove their losses to the insurance company. So, if you want to reduce the odds of a denied insurance claim, make sure that you provide as much evidence as possible and fill out the proof of loss form to the best of your ability.

Please note that proof of loss forms are official, legally binding documents. In other words, when you submit a proof of loss form to your insurance company, you submit a notarized, sworn statement on the damage to your property.

Once the proof of loss form has been submitted, an insurance company will review the information in the form and the coverage included in your policy to determine liability and decide on a payout, if applicable.

Lastly, proof of loss forms are relatively commonplace when filing an insurance claim related to property damage. However, there are a few instances when your insurance company may require you to fill out this type of form. Namely, if the claim amount is higher, if the cause of the damage is suspicious or questionable, and if your insurance company suspects you of being liable for fraud.

How to fill out a proof of loss form for an insurance claim

Keep reading if you’re wondering what information is needed to fill out a proof of loss form. However, since proof of loss forms can vary between insurance providers, we recommend checking your policy, which will specifically outline what information is needed under the Duties After A Loss section:

  • Your insurance policy number.
  • The date and cause of the damage.
  • The names of any parties with a financial interest or stake in the claim, e.g. your mortgage lender.
  • Evidence of the loss, e.g. photos, a police report, etc.
  • The replacement value of the items that were damaged or destroyed.
  • The estimated costs to repair the damage caused to your property.

What if you are missing information when filling out a proof of loss form?

Generally speaking, you should always strive to fill out a proof of loss form with as much detail and accuracy as possible. That said, if there comes a time when you do not have the required information or aren’t sure how to complete a specific section of the form, we recommend reaching out to an insurance broker or agent as soon as possible. A broker can advise you on the best course of action.

For instance, if you are claiming a stolen bike but you no longer have the receipt from when you purchased the bike, providing a photo of the bike might be sufficient.

Ideally, you do not want to leave any portions blank, which can hurt your chances of accepting your claim. In addition, you should never make assumptions or provide false information, as this can be grounds for a denied claim or even a cancelled policy.

When should a proof of loss form be submitted?

Policyholders who wish to file a property damage claim with their insurance provider should submit a proof of loss form as soon as possible following the incident. Most insurance companies have a set timeline for proof of loss forms. This timeline is often 60 days from the date of the incident, which means you will have roughly two months to complete and submit a proof of loss form for your insurance claim. If you know that you cannot submit your claim in time, be sure to contact your insurance provider before the deadline, as they may be able to offer an extension.

Can an insurance company refuse a proof of loss form?

Yes, an insurance provider can refuse a policyholder’s proof of loss form for several reasons. For instance, if the policyholder didn’t complete the form correctly, if they failed to answer all of the questions if they did not provide any supporting evidence or documentation if they didn’t sign the form or didn’t get the form notarized, and if the form was submitted after the deadline.

What to remember when filling out a proof of loss form from your insurance company

Before completing your proof of loss form, read through this list of helpful tips and things to remember when filling one out for your insurance provider:

1. Be as accurate as possible

Accuracy is vital when filling out a proof of loss form. Your insurance company could accuse you of fraud or misrepresentation if your information is inaccurate. This could result in a denied claim or even a cancelled insurance policy. Thus, take care to fill out the form as truthfully as possible.

2. Submit the proof of loss form by the deadline

Our second tip is to make sure that you submit your proof of loss form by the deadline specified by your insurance company. As mentioned previously, most insurance companies have a set deadline for filing insurance claims. The timeline varies depending on the type of insurance claim you are filing.

For example, most automobile claims are 60 or 90 days from the incident date. Meanwhile, home insurance companies may allow you to file claims anywhere from three months up to one year from the date of the damage. Remember that if you wait too long and submit your claim after the set deadline, the insurance company may deny your claim.

3. Obtain detailed estimates of the damage

Tip number three is to obtain detailed estimates of the damage done. Again, accuracy is critical here. So, do your best to contact the person you need to contact for an accurate quote. For example, you may contact a local mechanic or auto body shop for a repair estimate for an auto insurance-related loss. Meanwhile, you may need to contact a local contractor or construction company for a home insurance claim.

4. Review your policy carefully

Next, we recommend reviewing your policy carefully before filling out a proof of loss form. This will give you an idea of your coverage and the likelihood of your claim being approved or denied. Specifically, we recommend checking your coverage limit to see if the value of the damage is within this limit. Further, if the loss was due to theft, you should also review your policy to determine if your insurance covers stolen items.

5. Ask a broker for help

If you need help filling out the proof of loss form or have questions about the process, please get in touch with a BrokerLink insurance advisor. The licensed brokers at BrokerLink are insurance experts who can answer any questions you may have and walk you through the process of submitting a proof of loss form. They can also give you claims advice to increase your odds of approving your claim.

6. Take steps to avoid a loss in the future

If you want to reduce home insurance claims in the future, we recommend taking additional steps to help prevent a loss or to make it easier should a loss occur again. This begins with creating an inventory of the items inside your home so that if any items are stolen, you can review your inventory to confirm exactly which items are missing. We also recommend taking additional steps to secure your property to avoid an incident of damage.

If you have a car, you may wish to install an anti-theft device on it or park it in a securely monitored or private garage when possible. Meanwhile, to protect your home, you could install a burglar alarm system, a sump pump or a sewer backup detection device to avoid water damage.

What happens after you submit a proof of loss form to your insurance company

After submitting a proof of loss form to your insurance company, they will review it thoroughly. They may have an insurance adjuster investigate your claim. Once the investigation is complete, the insurer will decide to accept or replace your claim. If they accept your claim, they will contact you with the payment amount, and you should receive the payment within a few weeks of hearing from them.

Contact BrokerLink to learn more about proof of loss forms

If you still have questions about how proof of loss forms work in insurance or how to fill out this type of form, reach out to BrokerLink today. Any one of our licensed insurance advisors would be pleased to answer your questions and review your coverage to help you file a claim. We can also provide valuable advice on what information is needed when filling out a proof of loss form.

Plus, as insurance experts, we can also explain and obtain a claim experience letter, update or renew an existing insurance policy, or purchase a brand new policy. Get in touch today to begin your insurance journey. We can be reached by phone, online, or in person at over 200+ insurance offices across Canada. And remember, BrokerLink also offers complimentary quotes to all customers.