Homeowner’s insurance provides coverage in event of damage to your property. Your homeowner’s insurance may cover damage from fire, smoke, windstorm, hail and/or snow. Everyone’s homeowner’s insurance covers different damage to their property and you should review your homeowner’s policy to see what type of damage is covered. The date the damage occurs on is usually referred to by your insurance carrier as the “date of loss.” The time in which you have to file a lawsuit is known as the statute of limitations and is measured from the date of loss.
Typically, the statute of limitations for a breach of contract claim in New York is six years from the date of loss pursuant to CPLR § 213. It is important to read your homeowner’s policy, though, because the statute of limitations period in any contract can be shortened by contractual provisions. The statute of limitations period in a homeowner’s policy can be reduced to as little as one year from the date of loss and still be considered valid in New York. If you cannot locate a copy of your homeowner’s policy, you can request one from your insurance carrier. A typical statute of limitations provision in a homeowner’s policy provides “[n]o action shall be brought unless there has been compliance with the policy provisions and the action is started within two years after the occurrence causing the loss or damage.”
It is important to know the statute of limitations period in your homeowner’s policy because the insurance company may not continue to negotiate your claim after that date unless you have filed a lawsuit against the insurance carrier. For example, even if your insurance company has indicated that it is willing to pay something for your loss but needs to complete its investigation first, you still must file a lawsuit against the insurance company before the statute of limitations period expires to ensure that the insurance company will continue to negotiate your claim after the statute of limitation expires. It is also important to keep in mind that the statute of limitations period runs from the date of loss. So, if I had a fire in my house today and sustained damage to one of the rooms in my home, my date of loss would be today, December 8, 2008. Therefore, if my homeowner’s policy stated, “the action is started within two years after the occurrence causing the loss or damage,” I would have to start an action against my insurance company before December 8, 2010 if the insurance company had not yet reimbursed me for my loss before that date.
It is also possible that your homeowner’s policy may not have any provisions shortening the applicable statute of limitations period. If you homeowner’s policy does not have any provisions regarding when an action is to be commenced by, then the six year statue of limitations period pursuant to CPLR § 213 applies.