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I'm wondering if an insurance company could deny my coverage if a disaster happens and, after the fact, they determine that information I supplied when signing up turns out to be inaccurate. For example, if they ask me whether I have trusses or rafters for my roofing system and I give the wrong answer because I can't tell the difference, could they deny me coverage (or pay less money) in the event that a tree falls and damages my roof?

Or, if I get a discount for having smoke detectors in the house, there's a fire and it turns out that all of the batteries in my smoke detectors were dead when the fire started, could they deny coverage because I failed to keep my smoke detectors operational?

I'm asking not because I deliberately supply misinformation to my insurer, but because there are so many conditions involved in insurance policies that it seems like it would be easy to make a mistake. I've never heard of someone's house burning down and the person not being covered because of some small oversight, but can this happen?

  • If they can make an argument that the difference was relevant for the happening of the damage, yes, they can decline. – Aganju Aug 3 '18 at 22:04
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Yes they can deny coverage in at least one state (Florida) for false or mistaken facts in the application, and the misrepresentation need not be related in any way with the claim!

In this case,

https://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2009/06/articles/insurance/wrong-application-information-may-lead-to-denial-of-an-otherwise-covered-loss/

the insured obtained coverage after demonstrating that they had removed a diving board from their swimming pool.

When their house was damaged in a tornado, the presence of a restored diving board was noted, and formed the basis for the denial of the claim for storm damage

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There are a lot of issues around this particular area of insurance, and the claimants who are denied payment are typically highly price sensitive shoppers that bought their policies from the Geko or Flo instead of through an independent agent (who helps you out with this exact thing). If you make a material misrepresentation on an insurance application about something a reasonable person should know (i.e. you say that you do not operate a business out of your house when you do) then your claim will likely be denied after investigation; In addition, insurance companies typically send an inspector out to your house to review things like what type of rafters you have after you buy a policy from them because they know that a court will never side with them if they try to make the argument that "a reasonable person should've known what type of rafters they had." If in doubt, you should ask an agent or consult the company on how to sort it out - don't say screw it and wait for a claim.

Practically, if your house burns down they probably won't be able to tell if smoke detectors batteries were dead etc.

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