1.) Contact your insurance agent and file your claim.
The policy specifies that you must do this in a timely manner. Get a copy of the claim form from your agent that will be submitted to them as written confirmation of the claim filing.
2.) Protect the property from further damage and document your loss.
Be sure to take photos and video of the damage to help prove your loss. Then, secure the premises to prevent theft and infiltration of the elements. Protect inventory and business personal property from further damage.
3.) Set up a team within your company to deal with the loss.
Make sure this team is composed of your most competent, trustworthy people, since your business recovery is dependent upon it. Direct your team to implement the contingency operations plan, if you have one, to facilitate maintenance of your business as a going concern. You must do this to mitigate your covered business income loss, thereby maximizing the potential within the insurance policy to cover the loss. If you do not have a contingency operations plan, develop one with your CPA.
4.) Study your insurance policy.
The policy was broadly written to allow flexibility in adjusting the loss, and although the insurance company’s adjuster will utilize this flexibility, any ambiguities in the language should fall in your favor.
5.) Gain control of the situation
You must be pro-active in the insurance claims process. All policies require you to prepare and present your claim, but the insurance company provides you with an adjuster. However, he/she will be representing their interests. Allowing the insurance company to prepare your claim is just like allowing the IRS to prepare your tax return - they may not dig deep enough to find everything to which you are entitled.
6.) Retain experts to assist you in proving the loss.
You may need specialists such as an architect, engineer, equipment expert and contractor. Make sure they understand how to deal with insurance companies, as you want them to work in your best interest. The insurer will most likely bring their own experts to generate reports that may favor the insurance company’s perspective.
7.) Request that the insurance company issue an advance check upon the first visit of the first adjuster.
This initial visit is to enable the company to reserve the loss (set aside money to pay the claim), and to strategize their approach to the claim. Although the policy does not specifically require the company to issue an advance, most insurance carriers will do so.
8.) Always be aware of the players and their positions in the game.
If your agent is an agent of the insurer, they owe a duty to the insurance company. Likewise, the company’s adjuster owes a duty to them as well. The claim process should not be adversarial by any means, but having a public adjuster with expert experience on your side will help level the playing field.
9.) Keep in mind that adjusting a large property insurance claim is a very specialized field of work.
Even your attorney and CPA probably would not claim to be experts in this field. Your broker, no matter how sophisticated, will admit that neither they, nor members of their firm, are adjusters. They may have a claims department within the agency, but their job is to facilitate smooth communications between the insurer and you, the insured.
10.) Retain a claims consultant as your representative in the preparation of the claim.
These consultants are licensed public adjusters who will handle your claim and act as your advocate. They will maximize your recovery, minimize your downtime, and create a level playing field with the insurance company throughout the claims process. They will report to you, and advise the best course of action to the best of their ability. There will be many decisions to make regarding policy coverage and limits, customary adjusting practices, and claim formatting. In this case, a public adjuster is your best option to secure the maximum funding available and ensure your business’s recovery.
For assistance with your property insurance claim, contact our public adjusters at 888.321.5200.