Many businesses must file an insurance claim at some point, and it is good business practice to develop an insurance claim checklist before the need for a claim even arises. This way, you can navigate the claims process much more smoothly and be aware of common missteps or overlooked items that folks make in the process. Here are seven things to think about as you develop a checklist tailored to the needs of your business.
1. Understand Your Policy and Report the Claim Quickly: Many insurance policies include “loopholes.” While you should not lie, you should review your policy to make sure you say nothing that an insurer might misunderstand or misinterpret in order to deny your claim. No matter what, always review your policy for the time limit in which you have to file. If you wait to file, the deadline may have passed, and even if it has not, that means more time before your insurance company is able to address your problem. Many insurance offices allow you to file online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whatever method is most comfortable for you, phone, in person at an office or online, file the claim before the deadline passes.
2. Work to Prevent Further Damage: In some cases, insurance will not cover situations in which your business could have prevented further damage but did not. So, suppose you are dealing with a water leak. You should shut off the water and take steps such as wrapping damaged areas in plastic to prevent leaks where possible.
3. Log Communications With the Insurance Company: Record information such as the date you submitted your claim, how and to whom. Keep a database summarizing conversations, contact information, names, job titles and the like.
4. Document the Damage: List the items that have been damaged; go into as much detail as possible. Include information such as item receipts, brand names, serial numbers, date of purchase and amount paid for the item. Photograph the damage. Because you might discover new losses or damage after the claim period has run out, specify that your list is only partial and is ongoing. While doing this will not absolutely cover you in the event of new damage discoveries, it might help.
5. Record Your Repair Expenses: Spare no detail here, either. List how much time you or others at your business have spent cleaning up and repairing damage. Keep track of the money you spend to repair the damage; keep receipts, and do not make permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster has had the opportunity to review the damage and approve permanent remedies.
6. Avoid Discussing Fault or Liability: Many insurance claims have to do with liability rather than damage. For example, if someone falls and injures himself or herself at your business, that is a matter of potential liability. Record information pertaining to who was involved, including the injured people and witnesses; gather names, addresses, phone numbers and so on, and get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible. Do not discuss your potential liability with third parties such as witnesses and potentially injured people, but get statements from them, if appropriate.
7. Handle Public Relations: Your insurance company knows that the statements you make to the public can come back to hurt you later in the claims process; for example, things you say can be twisted by claimants to make it look like you are admitting fault. Clarify with your insurer what comments to your employees and to the public are allowable for you to say.
Before submitting an insurance claim, review your checklist to ensure you have remembered everything. Use the experience with each claims process to modify and update your checklist so that the procedures become even smoother.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.