There are many incidents that can cause major setbacks for businesses. Electrical fires can damage inventory and equipment as well as shut down a business temporarily. Customer injuries can lead to lawsuits, natural disasters can destroy property, and burglaries can result in thousands of dollars of losses in equipment and valuables.
Our claims team has put together some basic tips that will help the claims process go smoother, if any of these incidents should happen to your business. Use the steps below after addressing any immediate emergencies, concerns, and issues. Please note that all property claims are not the same.
1. Call law enforcement, if necessary. If there was a burglary or a crime was committed, exit the property and call the police immediately. A police report must be submitted with all burglary or crime claims. Jot down the names of the responding officers and any other details to relay to your insurance agent.
2. Contact your insurance agent or carrier immediately. Your insurance agent and/or carrier will help provide assistance with filing a claim and going through the steps necessary to successfully complete the claim. For example, photos and specific information may be needed to help a policyholder file a claim. When the damage to the exterior or interior is extensive, an adjuster may be sent out to inspect the property and assess the damage.
3. Make temporary repairs if needed. If temporary repairs must be made, they can be completed before the adjuster surveys the property. Do not order any unnecessary repairs. The only types of 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 more rain from coming in a building and causing more water 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.
4. Create an inventory of losses. This is essential for providing a clear picture of the loss or damage. Include descriptions of items, their current values, and estimated current values. 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. Find copies of any receipts for damaged items. TIP: All businesses should keep a record of inventory and pictures are extremely helpful.
5. 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 are a large amount of photos, burn them onto a disc or mobile drive with identifying file labels. It is also helpful to do a walk-through of the damaged area with a video camera or a cell phone video camera. Videos help show the damage live and from multiple angles. Videos can be used to supplement photos.
6. 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.
7. Review your insurance policy carefully. Look at your insurance policy to see if there are any other necessary steps to take. Some policies include instructions about what to do if certain types of insurable losses occur.
Always stay organized when going through the claims process. Keep all papers accessible, and have information ready in the event that an agent or adjuster calls. When talking to any repair companies or other related parties on the phone, keep track of the conversations. Save receipts for any items that are purchased in relation to the damages.