It may seem that business insurance will go unused, but according to a study done by The Hartford, 40% of small businesses will file claims. Nearly half of all companies make use of their commercial insurance. If you’re wondering how to make a claim with your commercial insurance company, we’re here to help.
The Claims Process: How Does it Work?
Depending on the type of claim, the basic process involves these steps:
- Obtain evidence and file a police report (if needed)
- Notify your insurance company and report the claim
- Hire a public insurance adjuster to evaluate the damage
- Get estimates and complete the repairs
- Settle the claim with your insurance
Claims filed with commercial property insurance, general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, etc., are going to be very different. But the process, in general, is similar. Let’s dive a little deeper.
Obtain Evidence and File a Police Report
It would be best to take as many photographs as possible of the damage to your property or your vehicle when submitting a claim. An officer called to the scene, and an insurance adjuster will likely do the same. You should obtain the names and contact information of all those involved (or anyone who witnessed the event). In the event of an automobile accident or if your business was burglarized or stolen, you might also need to contact the police.
Notify Your Insurance Company and Report the Claim
Next, get in touch with your insurance agent and follow their instructions. Occasionally, an insurance agent will suggest you submit it online rather than by phone. Your insurance company will likely require the following information in order to process your claim:
- Contact information for you and anyone involved
- Your policy information
- The type of claim you’re filing (such as commercial auto insurance, commercial property insurance, business interruption, general liability, workers’ compensation, etc.)
- Specifics about the incident (such as the date and location)
- Describe the damage (with photos if possible) and/or customer injury
Please check with your agent for any other information needed based on the type of claim.
Hire a public insurance adjuster to evaluate the damage
With a public adjuster like Maximum Public Adjusters, you have an experienced insurance professional handling your claim. These professionals have extensive experience handling commercial property claims. Their expertise includes understanding commercial insurance policies, evaluating property damage and business interruption losses, and working with contractors. The main difference between them and insurance adjusters is that they represent the insured instead of insurance companies.
A public adjuster will provide you with various services that will simplify the process that includes.
- Claim investigation
- Damage Evaluation
- Work with contractors
- Assist with documentation and Proof of Loss
- Help you properly present your business interruption expenses
- Negotiate the best settlement from your insurance company
Get Estimates and Complete the Repairs
During this stage, you can start getting estimates for the needed repairs (damage to your building, for example). Insurance companies typically recommend getting two quotes for the repairs. If they are unhappy with the quotes you’re receiving, they may request their own estimates. Some insurance companies will require you to pay for the work upfront and reimburse you later. Once your insurance company gives you the okay to proceed with repairs, you can begin the work.
Settle Your Insurance Claim
Your insurance company will usually be directly billed by the contractors or mechanics who completed the repairs. If they don’t, you must provide the insurance company with an invoice and receipt in order to be reimbursed.
How Long Does It Take to Process a Claim?
The length of time it takes to process a claim depends on several factors, including the case’s complexity. An in-depth investigation into the event can significantly slow the process down. It also depends on the state where your business is located. New York law requires your insurance company to acknowledge receipt of your claim within 15 business days.
Upon completing their investigation (and after obtaining all requested information from you), the insurance company has 15 days to accept or deny liability. In other words, this is not the deadline by which the insurance company will determine how much it is willing to pay; instead, it is the deadline by which it will determine if anything will be paid to you. The majority of insurers process claims within 30 days of receiving them. Your claim may take longer if it’s initially denied.
How Do You Proceed If Your Claim Is Denied?
An insurance company can deny a claim for a number of reasons. The insurance company may argue that your policy doesn’t cover the incident, that you waited too long to file your claim, or that they suspect fraud. There are several things that small business owners can do if they believe their judgment is wrong:
- Submit a “response letter” explaining why you think they should have covered the claim.
- Hire an attorney to fight the claim’s denial.
Other Tips For Filing Business Insurance Claims
Here are some tips we’ve gathered to make the claims process as smooth as possible.
- Maintain an updated inventory and carefully document all information about business equipment. We recommend taking time-stamped video and/or photos at least once a quarter. Insurance claims are much simpler to process if you have detailed records.
- If your business has video cameras, make sure you have digital access in case a fire damages them.
- File a claim as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely you will have your claim denied.
- Verify that your insurance company covers flooding. If you live in a flood zone, consider obtaining flood insurance if they don’t.
- Prepare your business for a disaster by talking with a contractor about the cost of rebuilding completely. You can use this to determine the level of coverage you need so you do not exceed your policy’s limits.
Considering most small businesses can’t wait 30+ days for a claim to be approved or denied, we suggest investing in business interruption coverage. Suppose your business property is damaged or you are unable to run your business. In that case, this insurance coverage can help cover payroll, taxes, rent, and other operating expenses until you are back up and running.
Get in touch with Maximum Public Adjusters.
When it comes to maximizing your commercial insurance claim, you can always request the help of professional claims adjusters like Maximum Public Adjusters. Our adjusters will take care of your claim from beginning to end. We are committed to ensuring our clients receive complete and accurate claim payments from their insurance companies. Calls and emails will be responded to within 15 minutes, and same-day appointments are available! Please call 516-385-2422 for more information.