Automobile insurance policies may have a clause that requires an insured to disclosure information to his or her insurance company that would allow the insurance company to determine if there is a valid defense to a claim against the insured. This disclosure obligation, which could be part of an insurance policy’s cooperation and assistance provision, requires the insured to make a truthful disclosure of all information reasonably requested by the insurance company.
It is an insured’s contractual obligation to make an honest and complete disclosure of facts, which also includes the circumstances surrounding a claim. An insured’s disclosure of facts allows an insurance company to investigate the claim and to decide whether to settle it or to defend against it. A non-disclosure of facts would be a violation of the insured’s duty to cooperate if the non-cooperation harms the insurance company’s determination of whether a good defense to a claim exists.
Besides making a truthful disclosure of facts, the insured’s disclosure has to be full and candid. The facts to be disclosed are material facts, that is, facts that would make a difference in the outcome of a court case. If the insured leaves out facts or lies about them, the insurance company is put into a bad position regarding the claim. It cannot make a proper investigation of the claim. Once the deception is discovered, the insured’s breach of his or her disclosure obligation could result in nonpayment of the claim.
An applicant for insurance also has an obligation to disclose certain matters to an insurance company. For instance, if an applicant for automobile liability insurance has an automobile accident after applying for the policy and before the policy was delivered, the applicant owes a duty to the insurance company to disclose that accident.
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