Judge rules 1-year statute of limitation to file insurance claims in Puerto Rico is not final
SAN JUAN – While San Juan Judge Ángel Pagán determined that a class action lawsuit filed by the Puerto Rico Insurance Commissioner’s Office (OCS by its Spanish initials) and Consumer Affairs Department (DACO by its Spanish acronym) against insurers for delaying payment of claims after hurricanes Irma and María is moot, he said the one-year statute of limitation to file claims in court is not final.
OCS and DACO sued on behalf of policyholders in September to address delays in their claim payments. More importantly, they also wanted to stop insurance companies from arguing that a one-year statute of limitations to file claims in court was final. The OCS wanted a ruling that the one-year statute of limitations was “prescriptive,” which means it can be interrupted by a lawsuit filed within a year.
The case will make it easier for individuals who filed claims to fix their properties but received less than expected or were denied payment, to be able to interrupt the one-year statute of limitations to take their insurer to court.
“It should be clear that the term in Puerto Rico to submit claims to insurance companies for the damages suffered as a result of hurricanes Irma and María is one of a prescriptive nature, susceptible to being interrupted,” the judge said. “After examining this Law, this Court has no doubt about the retroactive effect of Act No. 242-2018 to cover claims submitted to insurance companies after the passage of Hurricane Irma and / or Maria….”
The judge said that under Act 242, a notification of a claim constitutes an extrajudicial claim that interrupts the one-year statute of limitations, which then starts to run again.