Besides the statutes of limitations which have been enacted as laws by the Tennessee legislature, there is a second type of statutes of limitations. Many insurance policies contain terms which require an insured or policy owner to file a lawsuit within a certain amount of time. Anyone with a breach of contract claim, or other claim, arising from an insurance policy must be very, very aware of the limitations periods for filing lawsuits which are contained in insurance policies and how they work.
In Tennessee, limitations periods clauses in insurance policies are valid and enforceable even though many such clauses will bar a lawsuit unless it is filed within a period of time which is substantially shorter than Tennessee law would otherwise require. For example, in most insurance policy lawsuits, the main claim of the insured is that the insurance company is liable for breach of contract for not paying the claim. Under Tennessee law, a person has a full six years to file a breach of contract lawsuit. Many insurance policies, however, have provisions that essentially require a lawsuit to be filed within one year.
For either a statute of limitations made by state law or one made by an insurance company and placed in a policy, you need to know when the limitations period started. The day when the limitations period started is referred to as the “accrual of the cause of action.” When courts and lawyers talk about the date the cause of action accrued, they are referring to the date that the limitations period began to run — the date when the clock began to tick.