We hope it never happens to you, but there might come a time when your business experiences an accident or loss. An unexpected storm could rip through your town and knock a tree onto your building, or a wet floor could send a customer to the hospital. But don’t worry, that’s why you have your commercial insurance policies! Having these policies in place will help you pick up the pieces, or make sure a lawsuit won’t shut your doors forever. It’s your insurance company’s job to pay out in these cases, but remember: it’s your job to file the claim, and make sure it’s filed properly. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake and have your claim delayed, or even denied. Avoid these 8 common mistakes so you can get your business up and running again!
1. Not Fully Understanding Your Policy
Having the right insurance policies for your business is great, but you also need to take the time to fully read and understand what is – and is not – covered in your policy. Many commercial insurance policies have specific exclusions, such as for flooding, and they are often worded in very complicated ways. Read everything in your policy (including the endorsements, which may add or remove coverage for certain things) when you purchase it, and re-read it before you file a claim. If you’re having trouble understanding it, one of EZ’s agents can go over it with you. It’s better to be armed with knowledge when you’re dealing with your insurance company!
2. Waiting to Notify Your Insurance Company
Things might get a little hectic after your business is hit with damage or a loss, but one of the first things you need to do is notify your insurance company. When reading your contract, you’ll probably find that your insurance company actually requires you to file your claim as soon as possible. Any unnecessary delays in contacting them could mean a claim denial. Delays could also signal to your insurance company that the loss you experienced is not as bad as you say it is. Don’t feel like you need to do everything immediately, but it won’t take long to pick up the phone and contact your insurer.
3. Getting Rid of Damaged Property
Disasters like fire can devastate a business, and your first instinct might be to start clearing up and moving on. But hard as it may be, you just have to leave everything as is until the adjuster can come. Most commercial property insurance policies require you to keep damaged property so that the adjuster can inspect it; you also need to keep any undamaged property in place so they can make a full assessment of the evidence.
4. Not Documenting Everything
You’re upset. You’ve just been burgled or a hurricane has destroyed half your inventory. But you need to put on your business owner’s hat, take a deep breath, and document everything. Your insurance company will need you to create a complete inventory of damaged and undamaged property, along with the value of everything listed. They’ll also need proof of loss, so pull out your phone and get photos or video that you can use to corroborate your claim.
Documenting your losses is extremely important – but don’t stop there. Keep records of every communication you have with your insurance company. Photocopy any papers you send to them, and write down the names and numbers of anybody you speak with. When it comes to insurance claims, you can never be too thorough.
5. Keeping the Police Out of It
Even if you’re willing to recoup your losses due to a burglary or theft from your insurance company and move on, that’s unfortunately not an option. If the law has been broken, your insurance company requires that you file a police report before you can file a claim. Think of it as a way to provide extra proof for your claim.
6. Admitting You Were at Fault
If you ever drove your parents’ car as a teenager, you probably remember them telling you not to admit fault if you were ever in an accident. The same goes for commercial insurance claims. Your instinct may be to take responsibility for an accident that injures someone or damages property, but hold off. You might not know all the details or the true cause of the accident. In addition, in most insurance contracts it’s a big no-no to take on any liability without your company’s consent. What feels like the right thing to you might result in your claim being denied.
7. Paying Claims Out-of-Pocket
Just as you should not admit fault if an accident occurs at your business, you should also not offer to pay an injured party without going through the insurance claims process. It may be tempting to leave your insurance out of the situation and write a check to a customer who slipped and sustained a minor injury, but remember – you’re not a doctor! Their injuries might end up being worse than they first appeared, and then you could be liable for a huge bill. Your insurance contract prohibits you from paying for anything other than first aid without their consent, so any claims you file at this point will be denied. You have insurance for a reason – let them handle it!
8. Not Questioning or Following Up with Your Insurer
Never take the first offer, right? Or, in the case of your insurance claim, don’t feel like your adjuster’s valuation is the final verdict. Don’t be afraid to get your own realistic estimates for the value of your property and the costs of any damages. If you disagree with the adjuster’s assessment, call your insurance company, or speak to your agent – EZ agents are always ready, willing, and able to discuss any questions you might have.
You should also not be afraid to follow up with your adjuster. Sure, they’re busy, but if you feel like you’ve been put on the backburner, then contact them again. You absolutely have the right to ask them for a progress report – the money you’re waiting on could make or break your business!
Having insurance means peace of mind, but it doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax – you’re the boss after all! If the worst does happen, remember to read, review, and document everything, as well as to follow your insurance contract to the letter. THEN you can get back to doing what you do best – running your business. And remember, insurance is what WE do best, so come to EZ.Insure to have your questions answered, or to review your commercial insurance policies. Our agents have the answers and can get you instant quotes, for free. To get started simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or you can speak to an agent by calling 888-615-4893.