When a business suffers from a fire, flood or any other insured event, the immediate results can be disastrous. When you submit your insurance claim, would you know what to expect from your insurer or what other help that is available?
Public Loss Adjusters have produced our helpful guide to managing a commercial insurance claim. If you are unfortunate enough to be in this situation, we can help by managing the complicated insurance claim on your behalf.
Always Plan Ahead in Case The Worst Happens
First of all, nobody ever expects to be put in this unfortunate situation but it does happen to many businesses! After you have taken out or renewed your insurance policy and receive your documents you should store them in a safe and secure place.
Nowadays, most insurers will email your insurance policy to you or provide an online portal where you can log in for quick access. If this is the case, at least make sure you save the email that links to this portal or bookmark the website where it can be accessed.
Make sure you know all the important contact numbers for your insurer just in case you have to submit a claim. You may also want to keep a record of any out-of-hours contact numbers as well. The best way to do this is by storing them on your mobile phone.
Ensure that your policy is up to date with your current business needs. Keep in mind that your needs may change as your business grows! Ask yourself if you are still fully covered within every change your business makes? Be sure to check your insurance policy.
It is better to ask your insurer if you need to change your policy or not. The last thing you need is to find out that you are not covered because your insurance policy has not been altered.
If you renew your policy annually or regularly change your insurance provider make sure that the contact details you have on file are up to date. When you take out a new policy ensure that any excess is manageable and you are not underinsured if disaster does strike.
Address Safety Concerns
After the incident, you are responsible to ensure that your business premises are secure. This will help to prevent further damage, vandalism or theft. You will need to ensure that the property is safe to enter and any immediate dangers are dealt with.
Public Loss Adjusters can help you by recommending local professionals to carry out emergency building repair works such as securing dangerous areas and boarding up the property.
Identifying Damaged Contents
Your insurer may want to examine all damaged items associated with the claim. Keep an inventory of all the contents of the building and take photos of everything including stock.
Some items may be repairable or it could be the case that it would be cheaper to replace them but do not throw anything out unless you are told to do so.
Communication is the Key
In the first instance, you should inform your insurance company, even if it is out of hours. If your place of business is rented, you will need to inform your landlord as they will also have to get in touch with their own insurers.
Make sure that you inform anyone related to the business of the current situation. This may include customers, staff, suppliers or even other neighbouring businesses. If you are providing services to your customers, reassure them that you can still provide the services that you may be contracted to. If you cannot provide these services explain your situation and let them know as soon as possible.
Know Your Rights Regarding Insurance Claims Management Services
Your insurance provider will generally appoint a loss adjuster to provide them with a full assessment of the damage and their potential liability. After meeting you and evaluating the damage the loss adjuster will then report back to your insurer with recommendations of liability how to move forward with the claim.
Your insurer may appoint a forensic expert who will investigate the cause of the peril. During what could be a lengthy process you may have to wait months to find out if any liability will be accepted.
Keeping in mind, the loss adjuster will be employed directly or indirectly by your insurance company. In other words, they will be working for them. If you are not happy or are unsure of the loss adjusters findings there may not be much room for negotiations, you will probably won’t be experienced enough to know the best course of action to go forward.
Many people do not realise that they are perfectly entitled to appoint their own representation to work on their behalf. By appointing an independent chartered loss adjusting company who will have the experience to negotiate with your insurer on your behalf.
Think about it, your very own loss adjusters will be there to help answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your insurance claim. Your loss adjuster will be able to go back and forth to your insurer and scrutinise every decision they make.
They will be able to manage the whole claim for you and negotiate the settlement that you are entitled to. Your representative will be able to keep on top of the claim by providing your insurer with all the necessary information they require. In many cases this can dramatically reduce the time it takes for your claim to be settled.
Mitigation and Interim Payments
At this stage in your claim your insurer will expect you to do everything you possibly can to mitigate your losses and continue trading.
The insurance claims process may have begun but you may be under tremendous pressure to keep your business afloat. As a business owner you will still have your day to day responsibilities to your customer, suppliers and staff.
If your business has had to close down the main aim will be to limit the amount of disruption and get back up and running as soon as possible. During this time, you may have very little cash flow, if any at all so settling your claim quickly is a high priority.
Once liability has been accepted there still may be some way to go before your claim is fully settled. By appointing your own insurance claims management company one of the advantages could be by helping to speed up the whole process. In many cases they may even be able to negotiate a much-needed interim payment to keep you afloat whilst your claim is ongoing.
This may help you to replace important items that you need to keep your business running such as machinery and equipment. You may also need help claiming for loss of income if covered within your insurance policy.
Your own appointed loss adjuster may also help you find suitable accommodation or alternative business premises whilst your claim is ongoing. By appointing you own loss adjuster you will be at an advantage as they will be able to help assist with many of the problems that you may come across.
Appointing a Chartered Surveyor
Once liability has been accepted, in preparation of your claim your insurer will appoint a chartered surveyor to provide a detailed scope of works. If you do not own your business premises this may be dealt with through your landlord but you should still be kept informed and up to date.
If you have appointed your own loss adjusters to manage the claim on your behalf, they can approach your insurer in view to appointing your very own independent chartered surveyor too. Generally, your insurer will agree to cover your independent surveyor’s costs if you have a valid insurance claim.
Settling Your Insurance Claim
Your insurance claim should now be at the stage where your insurer will be made aware of most of the costs needed to proceed with your claim:
- The estimated costs to fully repair the damage to the building including fixtures and fittings
- The costs to replace or repair machinery and other trade contents
- The costs to replace any stock that has perished
- A prediction of business interruption costs
With larger claims, the next stage would be for the appointed surveyor to put the building works out to tender. With medium sized to smaller claims it is not uncommon for your insurer to ask the policyholder to take on this responsibility.
Generally, a couple of building contractors would be invited to submit an estimate for the cost of repair work. A company recommended by your insurer may only be working to rates set by your insurer which may not cover the repair costs to its pre-loss standard.
If you have been asked to do the insurers job by finding your own building contractors, you will need to ensure that any company you approach is fully capable of the job in hand. You may have a company in mind but it is worth considering that repairing a property that has suffered fire or water damage is of a more specialist nature.
Wouldn’t it be better if a specialist company who are experts in fire and flood restoration were appointed? At Public Loss Adjusters, we would only recommend specialist building companies to ensure the works are carried out to a high standard.
Based on the building estimates submitted, your insurer can now decide on who to appoint to carry out the restoration work. Now a timescale will be agreed upon for the works to be completed. This will also give your insurer a better idea with estimating the business interruption part of your claim based upon a deadline for the work to be completed by the appointed contractor.
Meanwhile, other parts of your claim should be able to be calculated rather quickly such as machinery, stock, contents and fixtures and fittings.
Getting Back to Business
As soon as the building work is completed, you should now be ready to be a fully operational business again. Although most of your claim will now be finalised, the business interruption part of the claim could still be awaiting completion.
This may not be finalised until you are fully operational to the level seen before the incident occurred or until the end of the indemnity period.
Why Choose Public Loss Adjusters?
This article has been published as an example of some of the many processes of a commercial business claim. Please keep in mind that depending on individual situations, no two cases are ever the same.
If you were to appoint Public Loss Adjusters to manage your claim on your behalf we would be there for you every step of the way. Once appointed, we will manage all negotiations on your behalf with your insurer and keep you up to date at all times.
You will be assigned your very own claims manager who will always be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the whole process. Our job is to ensure that you receive a full and fair settlement.
If you would like to see the real difference between a real insurer lead claim and a Public Loss Adjusters claim please click here.
To find out how we can help call us now on 08000 434 999 or ask a question through our contact us page. Don’t settle for less – Settle for the best.