DEFINITION of 'Manifestation Trigger'

An event that causes a policyholder’s personal injury or property insurance coverage to kick in based on the date when harm first became known. The manifestation trigger is one of four triggers of coverage used to determine whether an insurance claim will be paid and by whom based on when the policyholder noticed the problem.

BREAKING DOWN 'Manifestation Trigger'

For example, the manifestation trigger might be used in a case of property damage. The homeowner’s discovery of the damage would be the event that creates the ability to file an insurance claim, regardless of when the homeowner thinks the damage began. The policy in force at the time of the discovery is the one that should pay the claim.

One of the complicated things about insurance claims is that it could also be argued that insurance coverage should apply as soon as the damage first occurred, regardless of when it was first discovered. The problem is that the homeowner can only speculate as to when the damage may have first begun.

Another complication is that a homeowner might have had one insurance policy when the damage theoretically began and a different policy when the damage was discovered. The rule about when coverage kicks in will decide which policy applies to the claim. That, in turn, may affect how much the policyholder receives for the claim, since they may have had different deductibles and coverage amounts under the different policies. This was an issue in a Texas case where a couple began noticing a strange smell in the home early one year, and it wasn’t until the following year that they actually discovered it was mold. Because the manifestation trigger applied, the insurance policy that was in force when they discovered the mold was the one responsible for paying the claim.

The three other types of triggers are the exposure trigger, continuous trigger and injury-in-fact trigger. The exposure trigger uses the date when an injured party first came into harmful contact. The continuous trigger applies when damage or injury may have more than one trigger that occurs at numerous points in time, while the injury-in-fact trigger applies on the date an injury or damage takes place.

Trigger type matters because it is often difficult to determine when harm occurred and when liability begins, which affects the amount of money an employer, insurance company or other entity may have to pay out.

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