When businesses experience a loss due to damage, accidents, crime, or other perils, business insurance can provide a lifeline. However, it is important to follow the right procedures when filing a commercial property claim to receive reimbursement faster and resume operations as soon as possible.
Outlined below are the steps involved in filing a commercial property insurance claim.
Businesses should commence the claims process as soon as possible following an event as delays could prolong the entire process, including reimbursement. If there is an ongoing hazard, serious injury, or major damage, emergency services should be notified first.
Call The Insurance Company
After informing emergency services if needed, the next course of action is to contact the insurance agent to provide them with details of the incident, including any data that supports the claim. This may include photos and other evidence.
The insurance agent will help with the paperwork required to start the claim. In some cases, they may instruct the policyholder to submit the claim online instead of over the phone.
Some of the information that may be needed to file the claim with the insurance company includes:
- The commercial property insurance policyholder’s contact information
- The contact information of all other parties involved in the incident, if applicable
- The policy information
- The type of incident for which the claim is being filed
- Information about the incident, such as where and when it occurred
- A description of the damages and injuries, including photos wherever possible
Work With An Adjuster to Assess the Damage
The insurer will assign an adjuster to the commercial property insurance claim within 24 to 48 hours of submission, and they will visit the site to inspect the damage and ask questions. Their role is to assess liability and determine what will be covered by the policy.
If the claim is considered relatively small, it may be possible for the adjuster to settle it in just one visit. However, bigger claims involving matters such as fraud or severe injuries may require additional visits to gather more information.
Keep in mind that the adjuster works for the insurer and is on their side. Some businesses opt to hire their own public adjuster to help in the process. Their reports will ultimately need to be verified by the insurance company’s claims adjuster, but this can provide reassurance to the policyholder that they had a representative involved in the case. A public adjuster will consider the claimant’s best interests when they are providing guidance and verifying damages.
Obtain Estimates for Repairs and Replacements
The next step involves obtaining estimates for any repairs to the building or other property that are needed. Most insurance companies will ask for at least two quotes for the repair costs. However, if they are unhappy with the quotes the policyholder receives, they may request additional estimates on their own.
In some cases, the business may be asked to pay for the work up front and then receive reimbursement from the insurance company later. However, it is never a good idea to get work done until the insurance company has authorized it.
Settle the Claim
If the contractor who is completing the repairs is billing the insurance company directly, the policyholder may not need to take any additional steps. However, in cases where the policyholder must pay for the work up front, they will need to submit an invoice and a receipt to the insurance company in order to receive reimbursement.
How Long Does it Take for Insurance Companies to Process Commercial Property Insurance Claims?
Most insurance companies will process a commercial property insurance claim within 30 days of receiving it. However, the exact amount of time this takes depends on several factors, including the details and complexity of the case. If a detailed investigation is required, it can delay processing significantly.
Another consideration is the state in which the business is located. For example, North Carolina insurers are given 30 days to acknowledge claims and 10 days to pay them if they are covered, while Texas insurers are given 15 days to acknowledge claims and up to 45 days to cover or deny them. These processes can take longer for claims that are initially denied.
What Can You Do If The Claim Is Denied?
Insurance companies may deny claims for a range of reasons. In some cases, they might claim the incident is not covered by the policy or they suspect fraud. In other cases, it could be a perfectly valid claim but the policyholder simply waited too long to file the claim.
If a business believes that their claim has been unfairly denied, there are a few steps they can take.
- Send the insurance company a response letter to explain why they believe the claim should be covered
- Contact a state insurance regulator to determine whether the denial is worth fighting
- Hire an attorney to fight the claim, although this should only be a last resort as it can be very expensive
Get in Touch with the Commercial Property Insurance Team
To learn more about commercial property insurance or to speak to an insurance agent, get in touch with Atlas Insurance Agency. Serving Hawaii’s businesses for more than 80 years, Atlas offers significant knowledge and support in all areas of commercial and residential insurance.