Most states have no form requirements for a proof of loss. Not Florida. It’s one of the few states that mandates specific language be included in a proof of loss. That required language hasn’t changed, but as part of Florida’s 2023 updates to insurance-claim laws, the Florida legislature added new mandates about how the required language appears on the proof of loss.
This article covers these new requirements and provides context on how and why the form of a POL matters. If you’re not looking for an explainer, feel free to skip this article and simply download our free Florida-compliant POL form. And if you’re looking for more general information about Florida insurance-claim laws, check out our Florida Guide to Property Insurance Claims.
Refresher: Why a POL is the Most Important Tool in Your Claim Toolbox
A sworn statement in proof of loss — commonly referred to as a Proof of Loss or POL — is a formal written statement from a policyholder seeking payment for covered losses under the insurance policy. It details the scale of covered losses and describes the corresponding amount of money that the insurance company is required to pay according to the insurance policy. Most insurance policies mandate the submission of a proof of loss upon request from your insurer. But even without that request, it is generally prudent to provide one, as this action obligates your insurance firm to either settle your claim or justify its rejection. In certain jurisdictions, the act of furnishing a proof of loss initiates formal time frames within which the insurer must address your claim. For instance, in Florida, submitting a proof of loss triggers a thirty-day deadline to inspect a property on a residential claim.
For all these reasons, a proof of loss is one of the most important tools for the policyholder.
Why the Form of the Proof of Loss Matters
There are two ways to think about the “form” of the proof of loss.
One is whether your state or jurisdiction requires that all proof of losses conform to particular specifications, like the inclusion of mandatory language. As we mentioned, few states do this, although Florida is one of these minority jurisdictions.
The other way to think about the form of the POL is whether your policy requires a specific format. This requirement is more common, and when it’s applicable it can be important to your claim. In this context, the issue isn’t what state law requires, but what your policy requires. Every commercial property and homeowners insurance policy contains a section detailing an insured’s duties after a loss. Within that section you’ll find a sub-section spelling out the insured’s obligations to submit a sworn proof of loss, which usually goes something like:
Send to us, within 60 days after our request, your signed, sworn proof of loss which sets forth, to the best of your knowledge and belief:
a. The time and cause of loss;
b. The interests of all “insureds” and all others in the property involved and all liens on the property;
c. Other insurance which may cover the loss;
d. Changes in title or occupancy of the property during the term of the policy;
e. Specifications of damaged buildings and detailed repair estimates;
f. The inventory of damaged personal property described . . . ;
g. Receipts for additional living expenses incurred and records that support the fair rental value loss; and
h. Evidence or affidavit that supports a claim under E.6. Credit Card, Electronic Fund Transfer Card Or Access Device, Forgery And Counterfeit Money under Section I – Property Coverages, stating the amount and cause of lossHO 00 03 05 11 © Insurance Services Office, Inc., 2010
Under these policies, the “form” of the proof of loss doesn’t really matter as long as it provides all the information required in the policy’s proof-of-loss subsection. That’s why we offer proof-of-loss forms for pros and policyholders to download for free. Even when an insurer supplies a proof-of-loss form for convenience, courts in Florida usually find that the insured doesn’t have to use that form if the proof of loss that the insured actually submits still conveys all the information required under the policy. See Lopez v. Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance Company, 313 So.3d 230 (Fl. App. 2021).
Some policies, however, are more explicit in requiring a particular form for a proof-of-loss submission. The language you would see in one of these policies might state “send to us, if we request, your signed sworn proof of loss within 91 days of our request on a standard form supplied by us.” In these policies, you do need to very careful about using any form other than the one the insurance company sends to you.
So what are the takeaways on the proper form for a proof of loss? First, if your insurance company sends you a POL form, use that form. Second, if your insurer doesn’t send you a form, you can use any form you want as long as it provides all the information required by your policy. Lastly, if you’re in a state like Florida that mandates particular language or formatting, be sure to comply with those mandates. And with that, let’s dive into Florida’s requirements.
The New Form Requirements in Florida
As we noted above, the new Florida laws did not change the language that must be included in all proof-of-loss forms. But the laws did add three new formatting requirements:
- The fraud statement (see below) must be in 18-point font.
- The fraud statement must be in bold.
- The fraud statement must appear just before the signature block.
Finally, there’s the language of the required fraud statement. Under Florida law, you must include the following exact language in all Florida proof-of-loss forms:
Pursuant to s. 817.234, Florida Statutes, any person who, with the intent to injure, defraud, or deceive any insurer or insured, prepares, presents, or causes to be presented a proof of loss or estimate of cost or repair of damaged property in support of a claim under an insurance policy knowing that the proof of loss or estimate of claim or repairs contains any false, incomplete, or misleading information concerning any fact or thing material to the claim commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, Florida Statutes.Section 626.8797, Florida Statutes.
Hopefully this article gives you a better sense of Florida’s proof-of-loss requirements. Remember, when in doubt, the best course of action is to consult your insurance policy or a qualified, licensed professional in your area. And if you’re looking for the current Florida POL form itself, you can download one from us for free.