FEDERAL JUDGE STRICTLY CONSTRUES FLOOD POLICY PROMPT NOTICE REQUIREMENTS - DISMISSES LATE-REPORTED HARVEY CLAIM
In a Hurricane Harvey case, a Galveston federal judge dismissed a suit against a property insurer because the insureds had not reported their claim for more than five months. In Ibarra v. Texas Farmers Ins. Co., 3:18-CV-00358, 2020 WL 359903 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 22, 2020) (slip op.), the Ibarras reported their flood claim to Farmers about five months after the storm. Their flood policy, a Standard Flood Insurance Policy promulgated by the National Flood Insurance Program, required “prompt written notice” of claims, and required a sworn proof of loss to be submitted within 60 days after the loss.
In granting Farmers’ motion for summary judgment, the court noted that Fifth Circuit precedent is not clear on exactly what does or does not constitute “prompt” notice under the strictly construed flood policy, but observed that precedent from Florida suggests a delay of as little as 36 days could be considered enough to violate the requirement. The court concluded that a five-month delay was clearly too long and observed that it was also clear the Ibarras had not submitted their sworn proof of loss within the required 60 days of loss.