First notice of loss (FNOL)

A first notice of loss (FNOL) is a report you submit to your insurance company to initiate a claim.

a two-story home surrounded by floodwaters

For many people, the only time they contact their carrier is on the day they buy their homeowners insurance. But for those who suffer a loss, an FNOL is the first step they take in filing a claim with their insurer.

When do homeowners encounter an FNOL?

Many homeowners never hear the term “first notice of loss,” including those who have to file a claim. This is because calling your insurance company is almost instinctual after an event causes a loss. In most cases, that phone call is their FNOL. Others may come across the term in the claims section on their insurance company’s website or on official intake forms their insurer asks them to complete.

That said, don’t be alarmed if you never hear this term. Your claims representative will take information about your loss and process the next steps of the claim whether you officially call it an FNOL or not.

How a first notice of loss works

You typically initiate an FNOL when you experience a loss by calling your insurance company. Here are some losses that result in common home insurance claims:

  • Your home is burglarized.

  • A kitchen fire.

  • Your guest slips on your icy driveway.

  • A tree limb shatters your picture window.

Whatever the loss is, you must contact your insurance company to inform them that you need to file a claim. You can usually find contact information for your insurer’s claims department on its website.

On the call, your claims representative will ask for certain information, such as:

  • Your policy number.

  • The date, time, and location of the loss.

  • A description of the damages.

  • Circumstances around the loss.

  • A police report in cases of theft.

  • Witness names and addresses for liability claims.

This is usually enough information for the representative to start a claim on your policy. The representative takes down all the information, assigns you a claim number, and notifies the claims department to put your issue in its queue for an adjuster to handle.

How Kin handles a first notice of loss

Our Claims Center is available to members all day, every day, so you can submit a first notice of loss at any time. This helps us handle claims swiftly.

Efficiency in claims handling is important, but catastrophic events take that to the next level. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, our team banded together to:

  • Devise a system where members can initiate their claims via text message. 

  • Use aerial imagery to help alert members who had been evacuated from their homes about damage.

This allowed us to process a huge number of claims in a short timeframe.

When is an FNOL required? 

When you have insurance and you encounter a loss (e.g., damage to insured property), you’re required to notify your insurance company about the damage. Even if you aren’t filing a claim, your insurer needs to know about your property's condition and value, and updating them on any damage helps to do that.

Why is an FNOL important?

First and foremost, an FNOL is important because your insurer can’t know that you had a loss unless you tell them about it. Your FNOL alerts your insurer to your issue and allows them to collect key details about the incident so they can properly process the claim.

The details in your first notice of loss also help your insurer determine what coverage, if any, applies to the loss. The different coverages in your home insurance are triggered by certain circumstances, and in some cases, the circumstances you describe may not cause your coverage to kick in.

In other cases, policy features may make a claim unnecessary. For example, say your $1,500 bike was stolen from your home, so you call your insurance company, give them your policy number, and describe the event. The representative, however, tells you that your deductible is $2,000. In this situation, you may decide that it’s not worth filing a claim because the value of your bike is less than your deductible. Essentially, the FNOL gives the insurance company its first opportunity to assess whether or not your claim might be covered.

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