There are many issues that can cause major setbacks for businesses. Electrical fires can damage inventory and equipment as well as shut down a business temporarily. Customer injuries can lead to lawsuits, natural disasters can destroy property and burglaries can result in thousands of dollars of losses in equipment and valuables. With adequate insurance, these incidents are less likely to permanently shut down a business or halt operations for a long time. Use the steps below after addressing any immediate emergencies, concerns and issues.
Call law enforcement if necessary. If there was a burglary or a crime was committed that resulted in a loss, the first call to make is to the police. It is important to file a police report immediately and be sure to ask for a copy of the report. Jot down the names of the responding officers and any other details to relay to an agent. Call the agent immediately after the police are finished.
Contact an agent immediately. An agent will help provide assistance with filing a claim and going through the steps necessary to successfully complete the claim. For example, photos and specific information may be needed to help a policyholder file a claim. When the damage to the exterior or interior is extensive, the agent typically sends out an adjuster to inspect the property and assess the damage.
Review the insurance policy carefully. Look at the insurance policy to see if there are any other necessary steps to take. Some policies include instructions about what to do if certain types of insurable losses occur.
Create an inventory of losses. This is essential for providing a clear picture of the loss or damage. Include descriptions of items, their current values and estimated current values. It is also helpful to include a description about the condition of the item before it was damaged. If it is possible to take photos of the damaged items, take photos for the insurer. Find copies of any receipts for damaged items.
Show proof of the loss. Insurers require policyholders to sign sworn statements that show proof of their losses, and the required information must be sent along with the statement. This statement must be made and signed within 60 days of the insurer’s first request for it.
Prepare for the adjuster. Be ready for the adjuster to inspect the property. Document any losses that occurred, and take as many photos as necessary to provide a clear image of the losses. If there are a large amount of photos, burn them onto a disc with identifying file labels. It is also helpful to do a walk-through of the damaged area with a video camera or a cell phone video camera. Videos help show the damage live and from multiple angles. Use videos to supplement photo files.
Make temporary repairs if needed. If temporary repairs must be made, they can be completed before the agent or adjuster surveys they property. Do not order any unnecessary repairs. The only types of temporary repairs that should be made are those that will prevent further damage or prevent a possible liability. For example, a temporary roof repair may be necessary to prevent the roof from collapsing and injuring people, and a broken window may be fixed to prevent more rain from coming in a building and causing more water damage. Since repairs are deducted from the settlement, keep receipts for any services and items purchased. For contracted work, obtain two written bids from separate companies before hiring someone.
Always stay organized when going through the claims process. Keep all papers accessible, and have information ready in the event that an agent or adjuster calls. When talking to any repair companies or other related parties on the phone, keep track of calls and the reason for calls. Save receipts for any items that are purchased in relation to the damages. To learn more about what to do during the claims process, discuss concerns with an agent.