Minnesota property owners and their advocates need to be careful when calculating deadlines for pursuing an insurance claim. For years most Minnesota property insurance policies have been constructed as all-peril policies with one deadline for filing suit.  An all-peril policy means a policy that insures against multiple perils such as fire, wind, hail, water etc.  I am now seeing all-peril policies that carve out a shorter period of limitations for hail claims.  That period is only one year.

One Minnesota insurer has a suit limitation clause in its Minnesota amendment as follows:

6.  Suit Against Us.  No action will be brought against us 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.

However, if the action results from a loss caused by hail, the action must be started within one year after the occurrence causing loss or damage.

This is a carve-out for hail.  Other perils receive a two-year deadline, but hail only one year.  There is authority in the Minnesota Statutes for this result. See Minn. Stat. § 65A.26.

Another common Minnesota property insurer uses a different policy form for the same result.  The title of the one-page form states it is a Minnesota Wind/Hail Loss Settlement Provision.  It reads:

No suit for the recovery of any claim by virtue of this policy may be sustained unless commenced within one year after the loss occurred.

InterestinglMinney, this applies to both wind and hail.  Whether wind damage can be subject to a one-year limitations period under Minn. Stat. § 65A.26 is questionable.

Not all insurance policies issued in Minnesota will contain a one-year deadline.  Yet many will, which is why property owners, and their advocates need to look for the deadline very early in the claim process.  The place to look is the insurer’s policy, both the main policy forms and any endorsements or amendments.

The one-year deadline for hail claims puts property owners in a bind.  It takes time for an insurer to process a claim, and that time can be extended by winter weather. In other words, very little inspecting of exterior damage occurs from November to April. With winter conditions precluding investigation the true period to pursue a claim is a matter of months. I would hope Minnesota courts would recognize this when reviewing how an insurer adjusted the claim, i.e. the effort expended to timely pursue a claim.

Everyone should be very thoughtful in what to do with a hail claim in Minnesota.  Property owners need to look carefully at their policy and decide what to do.  The first step in any claim will be to look for the period of limitations.  That period of limitations is found in a section entitled “suit against us”, “legal action against us”, or words to that effect.

Feel free to e-mail me if you need any help reading your policy and understanding deadlines.  You can reach me at ed@beckmannlawfirm.com