Catastrophe and Setbacks: How Do I File a Business Insurance Claim?
Business insurance is no different from any other line of insurance: It’s in place to protect you. There are countless ways you may experience a blow to the business you’ve so carefully grown over the years. General liability insurance is designed to cover expenses that result from unexpected losses. This doesn’t mean that it will solve all your problems, but it will mitigate some heavy costs associated with a loss, especially when it’s the loss of the source of your livelihood. Whether you’re trying to stop a competitor from slandering you or if a flood just washed away all your equipment and made your office space uninhabitable, you’ll need to file a commercial insurance claim in order to move forward. In addition to listing the steps you need to take below, we are also able to pair you up with the commercial insurance agent of your choice after you compare multiple commercial insurance rates.
What Can Go Wrong?
Here are some things that can disrupt your otherwise healthy business: an electrical fire that damages your office; a burglary or vandalism which results in stolen or destroyed computers and other equipment; you experience a flood or other natural disaster that makes your office inaccessible; a customer is injured on your business property; your computers get hacked and some sensitive client information is compromised; your competitor begins to slander you on social media channels and your sales nosedive; your company turns in some work which is deemed unacceptable by the client who hired you. There are other scenarios that may prompt you to file a commercial insurance claim but these are some of the most common reasons people seek assistance from insurance coverage.
Even if you’re not certain you’re covered, any scenario that causes you to experience a loss may be a reason to pick up the phone and speak with your insurance agent. In fact, it may be a wise idea to consult the agent even if you’re not sure about whether or not you need to file a claim. For instance, let’s say you own a restaurant and a patron slips and falls but says he is fine only to file a bodily injury claim against your business a few weeks later. Advance notice always helps the people whose job it is to protect you so you’re better off calling the agent right after an accident occurs, even if it never amounts to a lawsuit.
What You Should Do in the Event of a Catastrophe or Accident:
- Contact your agent: If you have a trustworthy agent, this person has your back and will mitigate your risk. If there’s physical damage to your business property, (s)he may send a claims adjuster to evaluate the damage.
- Contact the police: If a crime has taken place, you’ll want to call the police right away and file a relevant claim. Without a police report, insurance will not reimburse you for, say, your stolen monitors. Remember that if you plan to take up charges of slander or libel, you’ll also need to file a report with the authorities.
- Are you covered? Whether you pour over your business insurance policy yourself or you review it over the phone with your agent, the policy will probably be specific about what you need to do if you’ve experienced a covered loss.
- Make a list: Prepare an inventory of stolen or damaged/destroyed items for your insurer and/or adjuster. If you have receipts for these items, it helps to affix copies of these as well.
- Proof of loss: Your insurer will ask that you send a signed and sworn proof of loss in order for the claim to be investigated. Make sure to return this within 60 days of the request.
- Document the damage: Take photos or videos of the damage to your office.
- Temporary fixes: In order to make it safer to access the office or to be able to conduct business on the premises again, you may need to fix some repairs on your own even before your claim is processed. Make sure it’s safe to enter the space and keep receipts for fixes, which your insurer may reimburse.
In addition to the steps listed above, it’s important to keep all documents related to your commercial insurance claim and your office repairs in a safe place. You’ll also likely be asked to get more than one estimate for repairs so keep that paperwork organized too.
If your business is completely shut down due to extensive damage, you may have to file a loss-of-use claim if you have business interruption insurance. If you do not have business interruption coverage, speak with a licensed agent for competitive rates from multiple insurers. If you have the coverage, you may be reimbursed for lost income or relocation costs. When claiming business income, you need to be able to show your business’s net income and expenses before the event happened. Your insurer will compare your income before and after the event to determine what you’re owed.
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