Delays in reporting an incident can hamper an insurance adjuster's ability to investigate. With a car accident, for instance, the memories of witnesses can fade. Back to that basement flood: The insurer could also wonder if a loss was bigger than it needed to be. Did you take steps to, say, minimize damage after a flood? Where's the evidence of the original loss? Did you try to fix a loss on your own and possibly make it worse?
"Your delay could make it difficult to assess damage," says Brian Maltman, executive director of General Insurance OmbudService, "The insurer may even deny the claim because it has been prevented from being able to properly deal with the loss."