Proof of loss

Reviewed by Daniel Mirkovic

Updated February 23, 2024 | Published March 10, 2023

Noun

proof·of·loss | ˈprüf əv lȯs

Definition: A document completed by an insurance policyholder following a loss, which describes the damaged, destroyed, or stolen property involved.

The adjuster sent her a blank proof of loss form on which to record details about her claim.

What is a proof of loss?

If you make an insurance claim, your insurance provider will often ask you to complete a proof of loss form. The primary purpose of this form is to record all the damaged property involved in the claim.

The proof of loss form is also known as a statement of loss.

When you report a claim, your insurance provider will provide you with a blank proof of loss form. You can expect the proof of loss to ask for information like:

  • The policy number
  • The date the loss occurred, and a description of what caused it
  • A list of damaged, stolen, or destroyed property
  • Supporting documentation, such as photos of the damage, proofs of purchase for damaged items, or police reports

While it may seem like a daunting task to provide all this information, your adjuster will guide you through the process.

Many elements of proof of loss forms are regulated by law, so they don’t vary much between providers. Each province has their own insurance regulations, but most of them use similar wording for what a proof of loss must include.

For example, the Ontario Insurance Act states that an insured should provide proof of loss:

  • giving a complete inventory of the destroyed and damaged property and showing in detail quantities, costs, actual cash value and particulars of amount of loss claimed,
  • stating when and how the loss occurred, and if caused by fire or explosion due to ignition, how the fire or explosion originated, so far as the insured knows or believes,
  • stating that the loss did not occur through any wilful act or neglect or the procurement, means or connivance of the insured,
  • showing the amount of other insurances and the names of other insurers,
  • showing the interest of the insured and of all others in the property with particulars of all liens, encumbrances and other charges upon the property,
  • showing any changes in title, use, occupation, location, possession or exposures of the property since the issue of the contract,
  • showing the place where the property insured was at the time of loss;

If you look at your home insurance policy wordings, you’ll probably see almost exactly the same description of your proof of loss requirements. In any case, when you start a claim, your insurance provider will send you a blank form; there’s no need to start from scratch.

Not every insurance provider will require you to fill out a proof of loss for every claim. For example, many insurance providers (including Square One) allow their customers to report claims online through an automated system. In such cases, the system will collect most of the information that would normally show up on a proof of loss form.

In Square One’s case, the law requires that we still send a blank form when a customer starts a claim, so they’ll receive one regardless. But, we normally don’t ask them to complete it until the claim is over and done with, and their adjuster will help them do so.

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How do you complete a proof of loss form?

For the most part, filling out a proof of loss form is straightforward. Since your insurance provider will give you a form, you need only provide the information it asks for.

As mentioned, that will include information about the loss, such as the date and time, and your description of what happened. You’ll need to list the damaged or stolen property as well. You’ll normally also need to fill in some basic information about the associated insurance policy and the parties it covers.

The most important thing to remember when filling out a proof of loss form is to be as accurate and thorough as possible. Remember, your eventual claim settlement will be based on the information you provide on the proof of loss. You don’t want to shortchange yourself, but you also don’t want to misrepresent anything in an attempt to claim more than you’ve lost; this is insurance fraud, and it can result in the entire claim being denied outright. Serious cases of insurance fraud can even result in up to 14 years in jail.

Basically, the supporting evidence you provide should reflect the actual loss you’re claiming.

Depending on your insurer and the extent of the damage, you may need to include photos, receipts, appraisal documents, or other supporting documentation.

It’s also important to pay attention to any deadlines your insurer requires. As a general rule, it’s the policyholder’s responsibility to report a loss to the insurer immediately after it happens and provide a complete proof of loss as soon as practicable. Your policy will describe the timelines for reporting and settling claims.

Once everything’s complete, you’ll need to sign the proof of loss document and swear that your statements are factual—so again, it’s important to be clear and honest.

The important points

  • A proof of loss form is a document describing the nature of a loss and the property that was damaged, destroyed, or stolen.
  • Not every insurer requires customers to complete a proof of loss form for every claim.
  • Since proofs of loss are sworn statements that will affect the eventual claim settlement, it’s important to provide thorough, accurate information.
  • False statements on a proof of loss form constitute insurance fraud, and are punishable by heavy fines and jail time.

Looking for another insurance definition? Look it up in The Insurance Glossary, home to dozens of easy-to-follow definitions for the most common insurance terms. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

About the expert: Daniel Mirkovic

A co-founder of Square One with 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daniel was previously vice president of the insurance and travel divisions at the British Columbia Automobile Association. Daniel has a bachelor of commerce and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He holds a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation and a general insurance license level 3 in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

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