After a place of business is hit with a loss, there are two challenges a business owner will face:
- The clean-up (and work related to re-opening your business)
- Preparing, submitting and proving a claim to their insurance company, a responsibility that lies on the insured.
Both tasks are daunting, and just as you would hire help for cleaning up and re-opening your business you should hire a professional to help you get the settlement your business is entitled to. When it comes to securing a settlement with your insurance company a public adjuster (PA) has the experience and knowledge to work with you so that your business doesn’t suffer any additional losses.
There are steps you must take to secure your business after a disaster strikes so that you get the settlement you deserve (whether or not you hire a PA)
- Contact your insurance company to report a loss (this is not the same as reporting a claim). Once you reach out to let your insurance company know that your business has suffered a loss they will file a notice of loss. Ask for a copy of that notice so that you have proof that you contacted them in a timely manner
- Check with the safety department for the go ahead to enter the location, be cautious of any structural damage. Ask them if the utilities are safe to use or are disconnected if they are no longer available for use. DO NOT attempt to fix this one your own!
- If your business location is not safe to enter or if it will be left empty for an extended period of time, contact the local police department to notify them that the site will be uninhabited for a period of time.
- Board up and preserve what is left of your property and your belongings. This will protect your property from further damage and secure evidence of damage that occurred due to whatever disaster you’ve endured. Consider hiring a reputable contractor to help with this task. Whether you hire a contractor or go at it alone, be sure to keep all receipts of materials to include in your claim.
- Go through your business’s location and take photos of everything, from every angle! Take close ups of damaged items including the labels/tags. You’ll want the cost of replacing your items to match the value of YOUR belongings, so document the specific value/model of your damaged belongings. Be careful not to repair or discard any property until a full inventory has been taken and approved by your insurance company’s adjuster.
- Review and understand the specifics of what your policy coverage, limitations and exclusions are. Do not rely on your insurance company to explain the details to you! If you need help understanding the language of your policy call a professional for help. It will pay off in the long run!
- You will most likely have a few different claims to file. For example you may have one claim for property loss during the peril, one for business interruption and one for additional expenses during the repair and re-opening process. There may be more claims to file depending on your policy’s coverage. Be sure to file all claims in a timely manner!
- Ideally receipts, photos and detailed inventory has been kept and is in order before an issue arises, but even if you haven’t done that, start NOW! Include any and all expenses endured do to a disaster as well as what was lost. Keep records of all and any reports filed… when it comes to documentation for the purpose of securing a maximum settlement the more information you have at your disposal the better!
- Don’t count on your insurance company’s adjuster to help you get the settlement you deserve, that adjuster’s client is your insurance company and his/her job is make sure that you get the minimal amount possible. You can level the playing field by hiring your own team of experts to work on your behalf. When it comes to filing claims let the experts do their job for you so that you can concentrate your energy into rebuilding your business.
If you have any questions about any of the steps you need to take before or after an incident occurs. Call us. We’re here to help YOU, the policy holder!