Commercial Insurance Claim: Learn How To File It
When your small business experiences a loss, damage, accident, crime or liability, you as the owner, need for filing a commercial insurance claim. This way, you’ll receive the help you need to cover any financial losses. Insurance coverage protects your business against common risk factors, including fire damage. Understanding the proper way to file your commercial insurance claim can help you quickly maximize your claim. As a result, you’ll get your business operations back to normal as soon as possible.
What Is a Commercial Insurance Claim?A commercial insurance claim is a formal notification and request for compensation you send your insurance company whenever you have suffered a loss. Your insurance policy can cover certain types of losses. If your commercial insurance claim is related to any of the losses stated in your policy, then you should be covered. First, you’ll file a claim. Secondly, your insurance provider will investigate your claim. Finally, if they approve the claim, the company will issue a payment to you and to any third-party affected by the claim.
How to File A Commercial Insurance ClaimIt’s important that small business owners know how to properly file a commercial insurance claim. Follow these steps to file an insurance claim the right way:
1. Make a Plan Ahead of TimeIt’s best to plan ahead in case you ever have to file an insurance claim. Being prepared can help you file a claim quickly and accurately. For instance, know that in the case of fire, it’s extremely important that you take as many photos of the damage as you can. In case of theft or vandalism to your property, be sure to have surveillance equipment for video evidence. Moreover, get standard reporting forms from your insurer so you have them on hand. Be sure to train employees on how to use the forms.
2. Gather Evidence to File a Commercial Insurance ClaimAs mentioned before, if your business experiences a catastrophe, be sure to collect evidence to pass on to the insurance company. Take photos and videos to record the damage. Make note of people who were present to witness, if there were any. They might be called to give testimony, or have them write down what they saw on site. Equally important is to take an inventory of everything damaged, ruined or missing.
3. If Necessary, File a Police Report; it May be Necessary for Your Fire Insurance ClaimIf you’re filing a claim related to a crime, call the local police to file a police report. Many insurance companies require a police report for these types of claims.
4. Contact Your Insurance Broker and File Your Commercial Insurance ClaimContact your insurance agent a soon as possible and inform them of the situation. They’ll be able to explain the claim process to you and will ask questions about the incident you’re reporting. In addition, they’ll assist you with filling out the claim form and submit it to the insurance company.
5. Meet with your Insurance Adjuster to File your Commercial Insurance ClaimOnce you file your insurance claim, your insurance provider will send out an adjuster. This should happen within the first few days. The adjuster will investigate your claim and determine how much liability rests with the insurer in your case. The adjuster will require a “proof of loss” (comprehensive list of all the damaged or missing things) from you as well as access to any supporting evidence, such as photos or videos.
6. Get Assessments from an Independent AdjusterNext, get quotes and repair estimates from independent adjusters or contractors. Remember insurance adjusters work for the insurance company and therefore will estimate the payout that most benefits your insurer. Try to get at least two estimates. You’ll have to pay for their services, but it could help further negotiations with your insurance company in case of a low-ball offer.
7. Consider Speaking with a Public Adjuster Who Takes Care of your Commercial Insurance ClaimDepending on the size of the claim, you may wish to consult a public adjuster for legal and insurance advice. A public adjuster will handle all communication and shortcomings with your insurance provider. They can help you put together claims documentation and guide you through the claims process. Furthermore, they can resolve any disputes that arise with the insurance adjuster.
8. Get Accounting Help for Your Commercial Insurance ClaimConsider hiring a forensic accountant to help you properly file the documentation for your commercial insurance claim. In complex cases, a forensic accountant can help accurately evaluate the losses and what the insurance company should cover.
How Long Do Commercial Insurance Claims Take?The amount of time it takes an insurer to pay an insurance claim depends on the complexity of the case. It can also depend on whether there are any disputes over the claim and what state your business is located in. Most states have timelines mandated by law. They outline how long an insurance company has to pay out a claim.
Dealing with a Fire Commercial Insurance ClaimIf you’ve just had fire damage to your commercial property, there are some important points to consider. There’s a lot of “fine print” when it comes to insurance policies and their terms and conditions. Having a solid understanding of the process, will help ensure you protect your own interests in a fire damage claim.
The following are some important points to consider:
- How do I prove damage if the items or property have been destroyed by the fire? It’s a good idea to always have pictures of your property, including interiors and exteriors. Equally important is to always have a list of all the items within the property. This includes furniture and commercial equipment. If you don’t have any of this in record, your bank could have a copy of your business’s blueprint from when they helped you finance the property. These would be good places to start, but you’ll want to ask your adjuster/agent for more specific protocol and requirements.
- After a fire or other catastrophic event at your commercial property, it’s crucial that you take photos of all damage. Nevertheless, you must resist the urge to make any permanent repairs. Wait to start repairs until you get the okay from your insurance company. You can make temporary repairs to avoid further damages to your property, such as covering broken windows.
- Is it a good idea to make repairs and restorations yourself? Your insurance company will pay less, but your premium may not increase as much. Weigh the costs and benefits of each option. However, if you do not possess the knowledge to properly restore your property, you could cause further damage that will not be covered by your insurance company. You could even be injured or exposed to hazardous materials.
- Did the smoke or water from fighting the fire affect your electronics, equipment, and structural integrity. How do you claim those damages to trigger better coverage?
More Commercial Insurance Claim Tips:
- When making repairs make sure your insurance company does not cut corners by using companies or contractors that repair/restore with materials containing lead and asbestos. That could lead to greater costs and health risks. Preferably, choose a contractor yourself and ask for reviews from other clients.
- Find out how your policy addresses code coverage, and Green building upgrades.
- If your coverage is limited, what can you do about it? How can your agent or a public adjuster help?
- Your insurance provider may engage a forensic accountant. Learn about their role and about which financial statements you are required to produce (and why). You should also ask if you should recast your financial statements.
- Find out what can be included as extra expenses
- Keep tabs on your insurance insurance company. Stay on top of your commercial insurance claim. On the contrary, your claim can get lost in a sea of papers and take unnecessarily long to complete. Keep detailed records of all correspondence you have with the insurance company, and don’t hesitate to give them a follow-up call here and there to check on the progress of your claim.
Best way to beat the insurance company is to hire AllCity Adjusting
At AllCity Adjusting we help residential and commercial clients alike get the claims support they need. Moreover, we have over 50 years of combined experience helping get our clients the max settlement time and time again. If your claim has been low balled or denied entirely we can help increase your maximum settlement. Call us today for a FREE consultation. Experience the AllCity difference.
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