Commercial property insurance provides coverage for physical damages to property that are not excluded in the policy. However, not everyone is aware that policyholders also have duties to fulfill in the event of a loss. Failure to do so can lead to claim denials, delays, or even policy cancellations. In this blog, we’ll discuss what these duties are and how to ensure that your claims are processed smoothly, up to your policy limits.
Common Duties You Need to Know
Every commercial property insurance policy contains different coverage details and requirements. Nevertheless, there are common responsibilities that you, as a policyholder, need to fulfill in case of a loss:
- Notify the police if necessary.
- Contact your insurer as soon as possible and provide details about the loss or damage. Make sure to describe the affected property accurately.
- Take all reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. Document all the expenses incurred.
- If requested, provide your insurer with an inventory of the damaged and undamaged property, including quantities, costs, values, and the amount of loss claimed.
- Keep the damaged property in the best possible condition for examination.
- Allow your insurer to inspect the property and any related records.
- Allow your insurer to take samples of damaged or undamaged property for inspection, testing, or analysis.
Cooperate fully with any claim investigations, which may include being questioned under oath.
Once everyone is safe and the claim has been reported to your insurer, your focus should shift to minimizing your losses and protecting your property from future exposures. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Get in touch with adjusters or other claims professionals for recommendations.
- Check, dry out, repair, and reactivate all safety and protection systems.
- Board up or use tarps to cover openings in the roof, walls, or windows.
- Set up emergency heat, dehumidification, or water extraction equipment.
- Remove damaged components that hamper loss recovery, such as debris blocking a view of structural damage.
- Inspect, dry out, and repair all equipment, motors, and machines before starting them again.
- Cancel any scheduled deliveries and arrange for specialists to inspect and service electronic equipment.
- Salvage paper documents and electronic media and data.
- Remove soot, smoke, and water from furnishings and other contents.
Other Steps to Take
In addition to fulfilling the policy requirements for filing a property claim, here are some other suggested actions:
- Stay safe. Even after staff and first responders have left the scene, the property may still be hazardous. Take reasonable steps to make it as safe as possible for adjusters and other insurance professionals who need to access the property.
- Document with photos and videos. Wide-angle and close-up shots, along with verbal or written notes, will help the claims adjuster better understand the extent of the damage. Keep security camera footage in a safe spot and back it up if possible.
- Stay organized. Appoint one person to oversee the entire claim process and create special work orders, job numbers, and other accounting procedures to separate loss-related expenses from normal operating expenses. Keep all documentation related to the claim in a single file.
- Stay calm. While the urgency to reopen quickly is understandable, rushing the claims process can lead to mistakes and larger financial losses down the road. Take the time to follow through with every step carefully.
Protecting your business after a commercial property loss can be overwhelming, but taking the right steps can save you time, money, and potential legal disputes. For more information tailored to your specific operations, contact us today.