Statutory Fire Policy and Time to Sue Limitations

Question: Can an insurance company assert a 1-year statute of limitations (SOL) on a property policy prior to the client hiring an attorney?

Answer: There is a provision in the Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act which requires the insurance company to notify the unrepresented insured or claimant of an upcoming statute of limitations. There are a few cases around the country (but none in Oklahoma) that failure of the insurance company to comply with this requirement estops the insurance company from relying on limitations. Here they are:

36 O.S. . 1250.7E: (Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act) Insurance company must notify claimant of running of SOL 30 days before SOL runs (1st party claim) and 60 days before (3rd party claim).

Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Ontario Aircraft Services, Inc., 129 Cal.Rptr.2nd 146 (Ct. of Appeals 2002); review granted, 132 Cal.Rptr.2nd. 526, 65 P.3d 1285 (2003); Review dismissed as moot on settlement 2 Cal. Rptr 3rd 554, 73 P.3d 432: Insurer estopped to assert SOL based on liability insurance company’s having violated Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act by failing to notify claimant of date SOL will run; contra: Johnson v. Kentner, 691 P.2d 499 (Ore. App. 1984).