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Believe it or not, most businesses rarely have to ever submit a claim to their insurance company. But, when property is damaged or liability issues arise you will need to file a claim with your insurance company.  This is the way in which insurance carriers determine if a policyholder’s claim is covered under their business insurance policy.  Filing an insurance claim is likely a result of negative business issue so it’s stressful before you even get started. Understanding the steps you need to take to file a claim and protect your business will make an already stressful situation much easier.

Here are some helpful tips when filing an insurance claim:

  • Know where your insurance policy is! Your policy tells you all of your important coverage information like what’s covered, what’s excluded, and any deductibles.  Keep your insurance policy in a safe place that is easily assessable.  Your policy will also have the insurance carrier information, your agent information, and other important contacts that you may need.
  • Contact your agent or insurance company quickly. This is an important tip because all insurance policies have a specified time in which you need to file a claim.  Contacting the agent or insurance company as soon as possible makes it easier for the insurance carrier to assess the claim and apply it to your coverage. And, you don’t want to miss out on reporting a claim because you waited too long.
  • Document everything. Your records of what happened may be the difference between your insurance company covering the claim or not.  Keep track of every person you speak with by documenting their names, job title, date and the conversations you have with them.   Take photos of damage or broken property and make a list of its value when purchased.   It is important to have proof of what your property looked like before and after an accident.  Photos and records will help you and the insurance company resolve claims correctly and quickly.
  • Make temporary repairs. Take action when property is damaged and make temporary repairs that prevent further damage. Insurance companies want you to take the first steps to fix the problem. Repair holes in your roof or walls and cover up furniture to avoid more harm.  Don’t make permanent changes or throw furniture or other items away until an adjuster inspects them. Take photos and save your receipts for the repairs and any temporary living expenses these expenses will be included in the claim.
  • Settlement or Negotiation.Be prepared to negotiate.  Insurance companies review the adjuster’s assessment and determine the payout for your settlement.  If the settlement does not meet your expectations, you can argue the payout by having an independent contractor give you a second or third opinion.  With their estimates you can ask for a bigger payout.  You can also bring in a public insurance adjuster.  These non-partial third parties are experts in insurance claims and can help build you case for a larger payout.  Keep in mind that they charge homeowners for their services sometime 10% of the settlement.

Insurance claims are never a fun process but with these tips you can better educate and prepare yourself to get a fair settlement.