What Is an Insured’s Duty to Give Timely Notice of a Claim?
Once an insured is aware of the existence of a claim, she has a reasonable time to put the insurer on notice of the claim, and if she fails to do so, any potential coverage may be extinguished. Compliance with the notice requirements in an insurance policy is a condition precedent to recovery [or defense. An insured’s failure to give notice “within a reasonable time with such conditions precedent in an insurance policy requiring the insureds to give notice of an accident or occurrence releases the insurer from obligations imposed by the insurance contract.” Alabama courts have interpreted the term as soon as practicable to mean that “notice must be given within a reasonable time in view of the facts and circumstances of the case.”
Only two factors are to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a delay in giving notice to the insurer: (1) the length of the delay and (2) the reasons for the delay. Whether notice of the occurrence or claim was given to the insurer within a reasonable time rests on the reasonableness of the delay, meaning that failure to provide notice can result in a preclusion of coverage even if the delay resulted in no prejudice to the insurer. Where an insured fails to show a reasonable excuse or the existence of circumstances that would justify a protracted delay, a court should, as a matter of law, hold that there has been a breach of the condition as to notice.
There is broad discretion for what constitutes a reasonable delay. In Smith Const. & Dev., LLC, the court held that a four month delay in providing notice is not unreasonable as a matter of law. The Alabama Supreme Court, in Pharr v. Continental Cas. Co., found that where an insured waited eight months before providing notice, without offering any excuse for doing so, it had unreasonably delayed and breached the contract. In Southern Guaranty Insurance Company v. Thomas, the Alabama Supreme Court held that a delay was unreasonable as a matter of law where the insured delayed six months in giving notice to the insured and offered no reasonable excuse for the delay. However, in United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company v. Bonitz Insulation Company of Alabama, the insured delayed more than four years in giving notice of an occurrence to the insurer, but the Supreme Court of Alabama found the delay was not unreasonable. Generally, the questions of reasonableness is one to be resolved by the trier of fact.
 Empl’rs Mut. Cas. Co. v. Smith Const. & Dev., LLC, 949 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1169 (N.D.Ala.2013) (citing Pharr v. Cont’l Cas. Co., 429 So.2d 1018, 1019 (Ala.1983)).
 Reeves v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 539 So.2d 252, 254 (Ala.1989).
 Haston v. Transamerica Ins. Servs., 662 So.2d 1138, 1141 (Ala.1995) (quoting Pharr v. Continental Cas. Co., 429 So.2d 1018, 1019 (Ala.1983)).
 United States Fid. & Guar. Co. v. Baldwin County Home Builders Ass’n, 770 So.2d 72, 75 (Ala.2000).
 Id.; see also Auto Owners Ins. Co. v. Guardian Builders Inc., No. 5:11-CV-04096-VEH, 2014 WL 1233964, at *8 (N.D. Ala. Mar. 25, 2014); State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. GHW, 56 F.Supp.3d 1210, 1222 (N.D. Ala. 2014); Travelers Indem. Co. of Connecticut v. Miller, 86 So.3d 338, 342 (Ala. 2011); Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Estate of Files, 10 So.3d 533, 535 (Ala. 2008).
 See Id.
 Smith Const. & Dev., LLC, 949 F.Supp.2d 1159.
 Pharr, 429 So.2d at 1019.
 Thomas, 334 So.2d 879, 882-3 (Ala.1976).
 Bonitz Insulation Company of Alabama, 424 So.2d 569 (Ala.1982).
 Shaffer v. Regions Fin. Corp., 29 So. 3d 872, 882 (Ala. 2009); see also Gunter v. Beasley, 414 So.2d 41, 44 (Ala. 1982) (holding that the reasonableness of the amount of an expense allowance granted to a former lieutenant governor was a question for the trier of fact). See Mutual Assurance, Inc. v. Schulte, 970 So.2d 292, 296 (Ala. 2007) (holding that the reasonableness of a liability insurer’s reliance on a validly enacted statute that capped damages for medical malpractice but that was later ruled unconstitutional was “a question that is better left to the trier of fact” in the insureds’ action alleging negligent failure to settle); United States Fidelity & Guar. Co. v. Baldwin County Home Builders Ass’n, 770 So.2d 72, 75 (Ala. 2000) (holding that if conflicting inferences can be drawn from the evidence, the question of the reasonableness of an insured’s delay in giving notice to the insurer of a claim is to be submitted to the trier of fact); Shriners Hosps. for Crippled Children v. Robbins, 450 So.2d 798, 802 (Ala. 1984) (holding that the reasonableness of the trustees’ delay in turning over trust assets to the trust beneficiary was a question of fact to be resolved by the trier of fact); Parker v. King, 402 So.2d 877, 879 (Ala. 1981) (citing approvingly the general rule followed by the federal courts that disapproves of summary judgments in negligence cases because of the necessity that the trier of fact pass upon the reasonableness of the conduct at issue); White v. Drivas, 954 So.2d 1119, 1124 (Ala.Civ.App. 2006) (holding that the reasonableness of a mobile-home owner’s refusal to return personal property unless the owner of the personal property paid for expenses incurred is a question for the trier of the fact); and Jimoco, Inc. v. Smith, 777 So.2d 716, 718 (Ala.Civ.App. 2000) (holding that, under the workers’ compensation act, the determination of the reasonableness of an employer’s request for an examination by the employer’s physician, and thus of the reasonableness of any refusal of the employee to submit to an examination, is a question for the trier of fact).
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