The Most Common Mistakes Made When Filing A Business Insurance Claim
Dan Levenson September 17, 2015
As a business owner, you can’t prevent a disaster, but you can control how your business handles one. Going through some type of big financial loss, whether from a natural disaster or a major lawsuit, is chaotic—there’s no doubt about that. But in such a scenario, mistakes can be made that might delay reimbursement or keep your insurance from paying you at all.
Business insurance is meant to protect you when loss happens. For example, your commercial property insurance could help you recover money to repair the damage caused to your business from a fire, wind or hail storm, or even vandalism. Your product liability insurance could prevent financial loss from a lawsuit after an injury caused by a product defect.
But any major mistake, such as not documenting the damage caused by a particular incident, could be financially devastating if your company does not get all the money it deserves from your insurance company.
Here are some of the most common mistakes business owners make when filing an insurance claim.
Failing to contact the insurance company immediately.
Most providers make this simple by providing a 24-hour hotline for making claims outside of regular business hours, but you should contact your representative to determine how best to get in contact with your insurance agent. Some companies even provide apps for mobile.
Often, a business owner will clean up the damage before an insurance company representative comes to visit. As a result, there is confusion about how bad the damage really was. If you paid someone to clean up any mess, the insurance company may not reimburse you for the expense. Most insurance companies have a quick-response team that can come out to survey any damage.
Not keeping damaged goods.
If you clean your business before your insurance agent comes to view the damage, keep all damaged items. This can include flooring and insulation, in the case of physical damage to your property, as well as any water-damaged merchandise.
Failing to properly document the damage.
Even if immediate repairs are necessary to prevent further damage, be certain you take pictures of the original scene to document how it looked before your repairs. You should also take pictures of any repairs you make.
Failing to understand a particular policy.
A policy may have perils you don’t know about. It is best to fully understand your coverage before anything bad happens so you can invest in an add-on policy for coverage in specific situations. For example, while many natural disasters are covered by basic insurance policies, coverage is not provided after an earthquake. If you live in an earthquake-prone state, you must obtain this coverage in a rider or second policy.
Not appealing a low-ball estimate.
If you believe an estimate from your insurance company is too low, you have a right to appeal. If necessary, you should hire your own adjuster to make a second estimate. Often, an impartial third-party mediator will make the final decision on the amount of your payment.
Depending too heaving on the government for help.
Just ask any survivor of Hurricane Katrina how fast he or she received help from FEMA for home or business after that disaster. While the government may help after major natural disasters, your private insurance will probably provide the fastest assistance so you can reopen before you lose all your customers.
Not being adequately prepared ahead of time.
Make sure now—before anything catastrophic happens—that you have enough coverage and the right kind of insurance. Make sure you know where your insurance policy is kept. Do you have an extra copy in a deposit box, in case the original is destroyed in a fire or some other kind of disaster? Is your insurance agent’s phone number programmed into your phone?
Anything can happen—everyone knows that. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility not only to prepare your company for the worst, but to know exactly what to do should disaster strike. By avoiding these common mistakes when filing a business insurance claim, you can avoid delays and ensure that your business will be back up and running in no time.