Of all the line items on your expense sheet, insurance is the one you’ll regularly pay and hope you never have to use. After all, needing it means an accident, lawsuit or other significant problem has arisen. While there are many types of business insurance, each with its own important role, the dos and don’ts of filing a business insurance claim are fairly universal.
Here’s what you need to know to handle the situation efficiently and legally.
Do Plan Ahead
In reality, the “dos” start well before you ever have a problem. Your disaster plan should include the procedures for documenting damage for insurance purposes. The prevalence of smartphones means everyone in your organization is likely to have a camera in their possession at all times.
Let’s say a natural disaster wipes out part of your premises. Designate specific individuals to document damage in each affected area. Conduct training so they know what to photograph. Also establish a uniform incident report form to document the details of the situation. Proper usage of these forms should be part of your disaster preparedness-training regimen. Make sure your plan conforms with OSHA regulations and conduct drills to make sure it works.
Don’t Delay Your Response
It is absolutely critical to report criminal acts leading to insurance claims right away. In addition to potentially helping the authorities catch the perpetrators, insurance policies usually require notifying law enforcement right away.
Similarly, delays in terms of notifying your insurer after any incident could have a negative impact on the processing of your claim. For that reason, your very next call should be to your insurance company to keep them in the loop.
Do Document Thoroughly
Photograph everything, make lists of all damaged equipment and keep the scene as intact as possible until the insurance adjuster comes by to review the damage. That is, unless you need to cover something to prevent additional damages or injury. Compromised goods and other items should be kept on hand until the representative of the insurance company has inspected them. Create a claims form file for submission that contains all of the photographs, communications with the insurer and other supporting materials. Always keep copies of every document you submit and be proactive about following up with your agent.
Don’t Hesitate to Get Repair Estimates
If you need to make repairs immediately to keep your business running, rather than waiting for your insurance adjuster to show up to get the estimate process started, get estimates right away to minimize your downtime. Seek multiple bids, so you can be certain you have a reasonable quote.
Do Ask for An Advance
Many business insurance providers write advance checks to help you get your repairs underway as quickly as possible or to assist injured third parties on your property with their medical bills in order to minimize consequences down the line. Just make sure it’s understood on both sides you’re being granted an advance on the eventual settlement—and put it in writing.
Don’t Accept Verbal Assurances
Get everything down on paper or in an email. If you get a phone message promising something, send an email right away and ask for written confirmation. Paying attention to the dos and don’ts of filing a business insurance claim will help you get a favorable settlement as quickly as possible. The main keys are timeliness and honesty.
If you need to brush up on any type of business insurance, CoverHound is here to help you learn more and find an affordable policy. Start with free quotes!