Very few businesses are prepared for major losses. An electrical fire could happen at any time and cause significant damage to office equipment, supplies and the building itself. A burglary could result in a major inventory loss, an injured patron who sues could cause a financial loss and a natural disaster could completely destroy a company's building. With a good insurance plan, it is possible to recover from these losses. After addressing any immediate concerns following such a loss, it is important to take these steps.
Contact the police immediately. If the business loss happened because of a burglary or an internal theft incident, contact the police. File a police report, and obtain a copy of the report to give to the insurance company.
Contact your insurance agent immediately. It is important to let the insurance company know about the incident. An agent can provide helpful advice and resources for responding to the incident properly, and an adjuster may be sent out to inspect the property if necessary.
Construct an inventory. To measure the total loss, make an inventory of all items that were destroyed or damaged. Estimate the damages, and provide as many specifics as possible about the condition of the damaged items. If possible, take photos of damaged items.
Review the insurance policy. Reviewing the policy to see what is covered is helpful. However, a policy may also include the necessary steps to take after a major loss occurs. It is important to follow all of the steps listed on the policy.
Be prepared for an adjuster to visit. If an adjuster visits, he or she will need as much information as possible. Have an inventory, a copy of the police report, photos and financial records ready for inspection.
Have proof of any loss. Business owners are required to sign sworn statements proving their losses. Required information must be submitted first, and the statement must be completed within 60 days of the incident.
Carefully document damage to the structure. If the building itself was damaged, make a list of all damages. Take photos of each specific item. For example, a building that was damaged during a hurricane may have broken windows and a damaged roof. Hire someone to take pictures of the roof if it is unsafe to do so alone, and take photos of each broken window. When possible, take videos of the damaged areas also to offer a more complete picture for the insurance company.
Perform temporary repairs. Only complete repairs that prevent further damage. Boarding up windows, covering a roof hole with a tarp or taking steps to stop a leak are some examples. However, actions such as installing new windows, putting on a new roof and performing extensive renovations are not expenses that will be reimbursed as temporary repairs. Use common sense to determine what must be done immediately to prevent further damage and make the area safe. Save receipts for any related items purchased, and take before and after photos of the damages. When in doubt about a repair or procedure, discuss it with your agent.
Obtain multiple quotes. Before agreeing to any permanent repairs after the insurance company gives the green light for permanent repairs, request several bids or quotes for the insurance company to see. This helps to keep costs down and to get the process started as quickly as possible.
Always stay organized when handling insurance claims, repairs and adjuster visits. It is important to complete the process as quickly as possible. Most people are able to more completely answer questions immediately after an incident rather than a few months later. Also, some damages may have serious but slow-developing repercussions. This is why it is important to perform emergency repairs, have the building inspected and have necessary permanent repairs completed in a timely manner. Some businesses may also be insured against loss of income and additional expenses.
For assistance with additional expense claims or business income claims, contact your account manager at Provider Group, or Patrick Darcey CIC. Patrick is a Principal and works with clients to develop their risk management strategy. He can be reached at 401-671-6355 firstname.lastname@example.org.