Insurance companies always seem to be at the ready with quite a few defenses up their sleeves, including – the technical defense of late notice. The traditional notice rule did not require the insurance company to show there was prejudice, it was simply enough for them to show the notice was untimely. Thankfully, many states now require the insurance company to show that the late notice was actually prejudicial to the investigation of the claim.
Different states have different stances on this, and Mississippi is one of the states that requires prejudice.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that,
[W]here an insurance policy requires notice as a condition precedent to coverage, coverage may still be allowed unless the insurer suffered prejudice due to delay; that prejudice is a question of fact.1
The court further elaborated:
As we have pointed out, the concept of prejudice will determine whether a breach of the notice obligation will cause coverage to be lost. That prejudice may prevent coverage even if the statute of limitations does not.2
The safe action for Mississippi policyholders is to be timely and not provide late notice of the loss. To read more on the topic of Mississippi law and prejudice, see Chip Merlin’s blog post “Mississippi Requires Prejudice For a Policyholder To Lose Coverage For Failure to Appear at An Examination Under Oath.”
1 Jackson v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 880 So. 2d 336, 341 (Miss. 2004) (citing Harris v. American Motorist Ins. Co., 240 Miss. 262, 126 So. 2d 870, 873 (Miss. 1961)).
2 Id. at 342.