For the most part, when a business needs to file an insurance claim, the carrier accepts the claim and sends out an adjuster to assess the damage, after which it starts paying the claim.
But the process sometimes doesn’t go smoothly, particularly if the insurance policy includes any number of exclusions. And many companies make mistakes in the claims process that may violate their policy’s conditions.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your claim is paid, as follows:
Contact your insurer immediately — When an accident or loss occurs that’s potentially covered by your policy, you should contact your insurer right away. The earlier the better as it’s easier for a carrier to assess any damage shortly after an incident.
If you are late in filing your claim, the insurer may question the severity of injury or damage.
Also, most business insurance policies require policyholders to promptly file claims for damage or loss. If you fail to report a loss or claim within a reasonable amount of time, your insurer may deny coverage on the basis that you’ve breached the insurance contract.
Review the insurance policy carefully — Review the insurance policy to understand what it does and doesn’t cover. Be sure to read the entire contract, including all endorsements. If you have trouble understanding the wording, feel free to call us for assistance.
Review your policy again before you file a claim. Be sure you understand the duties you are obligated to fulfill to obtain payment for a loss.
Create an inventory of losses — This is essential for providing a clear picture of the loss or damage. Include descriptions of items, their original values and estimated current values. You should keep receipts for high-cost items and equipment as backup documentation.
It is also helpful to include a description about the condition of the item before it was damaged. If it is possible to take photos of the damaged items, do so and submit them with your claim.
Show proof of the loss — Insurers require policyholders to sign sworn statements that show proof of their losses, and the required information must be sent along with the statement.
This statement must be made and signed within 60 days of the insurer’s first request for it.
Prepare for the adjuster — Be ready for the adjuster to inspect the property. Document any losses that occurred and take as many photos as necessary to provide a clear image of the losses.
If there is a large number of photos, you can create a file on the cloud or save them on a thumb drive that you can provide to the adjuster.
It is also helpful to do a walk-through of the damaged area with a video camera or a cell phone camera. Videos help show the damage live and from multiple angles. Use videos to supplement photo files.
Make temporary repairs if needed — If you have to make temporary but necessary repairs, you can do so before the agent or adjuster surveys the property, but contact your insurer first to let them know. Do not order any unnecessary repairs.
The only types of temporary repairs that should be made are those that will prevent further damage or prevent a possible liability. For example, a temporary roof repair may be necessary to prevent the roof from collapsing and injuring people, and a broken window may be fixed to prevent rain from coming in a building and causing damage.
Since repairs are deducted from the settlement, keep receipts for any services and items purchased. For contracted work, obtain two written bids from separate companies before hiring someone.
A final word
Always stay organized when going through the claims process. Keep all papers and files accessible and have information ready in the event that your adjuster calls.
When talking to any repair companies or other related parties on the phone, keep track of calls and the reason for calls. Save receipts for any items that you purchased in relation to the damage.
If you have any questions about filing a claim on one of your policies, feel free to give us a call.