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As a responsible business owner, you've done all your due diligence to protect your investment and find the insurance policies that are the most relevant to you. After you have done the research and are satisfied with a carrier, you take out a policy and start making your payments every month, hoping that the money you're putting in will never get used.
Then, one day, something actually happens. There's an accident, a theft, or a natural disaster, and it's resulted in property damage to your business. Now you're extremely thankful that you took the time and made provisions in your operating budget to make sure that you were adequately insured. But, it's now time to make that claim, and you're wondering, "How do I go about a business insurance claim?” Let's look at what happens when you need to talk to your insurance company about remuneration.
Know Your Coverage
The first step in addressing your property damage incident should be figuring out whether or not your insurance policy even covers the incident. Did you pay attention when researching? Did you specifically ask for or stipulate you need coverage for the event you are now dealing with?
Before you go applying for compensation for, let’s say, flooding in your place of business, did you decide to pay for that, or did you decline the offer for flood insurance, thinking it was never going to happen to you? Always confirm before filing that what you want to claim is covered by your plan!
Also, keep in mind that the claims process is not something that needs to be completed as quickly as possible! Of course, you want to fix your office, but filing a proper claim will take some time. So while you should probably inform your insurance company of what's happened and your intention to file a claim, don't rush into the process. You need to give useful information at this juncture in order to get a claim properly evaluated and approved, so take your time with the next steps!
Document Your Damage
Documenting the damage is going to be extremely important from both a legal and a financial perspective. More accurate information is always helpful, so be sure to carefully evaluate your place of business, both the interior and exterior. Try not to miss anything, even if it means getting a ladder and going up on the roof to survey possible damage there.
Make sure at this stage that you are carefully noting and preserving everything. Take photos or make video recordings as a means of documenting all the damage sustained by the property. If there's something that you don't understand, or you feel that you may need an expert to make a more professional assessment of things like the plumbing or electrical, make a note to do so. Your priority at this stage is ensuring you get an accurate idea of what's gone wrong. Your collection of footage, photos, expert evaluations, and more will also be valuable for your own "before and after" records, so you can see what your working environment was like and make comparisons with the repairs afterward.
You're going to need professionals to come in and evaluate the damage, list the measures necessary for repairs, and provide estimates for the cost of what must be fixed. Unless you want to do all these things yourself, you'll be researching the contractors that have the best chance of providing you with the results you need. Carefully go over their credentials and reviews, or get references from trusted sources.
You’ll still want to consider more than one possible contractor to do the work. Select a few candidates, have them come over to the site to assess the damage and provide estimates. This step is essential not just to find out what kind of costs you're looking at, but also to evaluate on a personal and professional level which contractor feels like the better choice for you. Never pick one immediately and jump in, always try to give yourself more options.
Work With Your Insurance Company
When you have at least three estimates, make your comparisons, consider your choices, and see how this stacks up with your deductible amount. Then take all of this information and share it with your insurance agent or claims adjuster to ensure that all parties know what's going on.
When you take the time to carefully document and provide the information that is needed, then your insurers will evaluate, process and honor your claim in a timely and efficient manner. You do all this as a matter of demonstrating your cooperation and ensuring the insurance company has the right information to approve your claim and help you get your business back on its feet.
Want to make sure that you have the information you need to make better insurance decisions? Contact one of our independent agents to make sure you get the protection you need.