Occasional property damage is an inevitable part of running a business. Fortunately, small business insurance in Hawaii is there to protect small business owners. Whether the cause is a natural disaster, burglary, theft, or accidental damage, Hawaii small business owners may encounter a time when they must file a commercial property insurance claim to recover losses.
Many steps are involved in the claims process, from gathering evidence to settling the claim with the insurance company. It is important to understand what documents and other requirements are needed to help streamline the claims process.
Commercial Property Insurance Policy
Before filing a commercial property insurance claim for a Hawaii small business, small business owners need to review their commercial property insurance policy carefully.
Standard commercial property insurance policies protect a business’s physical assets from storms, theft, explosions, vandalism, burst pipes, fire, and similar perils. However, these policies do not protect against all types of incidents. For example, earthquakes and floods are usually not covered by commercial property insurance unless added to the policy.
Determine if the type of property damage is covered under the policy and, if so, the deductible the business is responsible for before the insurance company steps in to cover the remainder. The policy may also specify steps to take if an insurable loss occurs.
Evidence of Property Damage
Having adequate evidence to prove a claim is essential. Suppose a crime, such as theft or burglary, causes property damage. In that case, the first piece of evidence a Hawaii business owner should acquire is a police report.
Filing a police report shows the insurance company that an accident or crime has occurred and was reported to law enforcement. Police reports should also detail the timeline and circumstances surrounding the case.
In addition, have numerous photos that show the property damage at the time of the incident. This series of pictures should be clear, well-lit, and contain close-up shots of the damage to help the insurance company better determine the extent of the destruction.
Inventory and Proof of Loss
Depending on the type of property damage, a small business owner may be required to prepare an inventory to substantiate their loss. This process typically involves creating an extensive list of product inventory that was destroyed or damaged during the incident and providing a copy of the list to the insurance company and/or insurance adjuster.
If possible, accompany the list with copies of any receipts for the inventory purchased to prove the cost. Hawaii small business owners may also be asked to provide a proof of loss statement.
This document must be signed and serves as sworn proof that the information provided about the loss is truthful and accurate. The information on the proof of loss statement may be used when investigating the claim. Businesses generally have up to 60 days following the insurance company’s request to provide a proof of loss statement.
Repair and Replacement Estimates
Before a case can be settled with the insurance company, a business owner may be required to obtain estimates for repairs or replacements. Ideally, a business owner should obtain at least two quotes for repairs, especially if the first quote does not seem to accurately reflect the cost of work required.
In some instances, the insurance company might not be satisfied with the repair estimates and may request their own estimates. While waiting for the insurance company to approve their claims, business owners should take reasonable steps to protect their property.
This may require them to make temporary repairs that help prevent future damage. For example, if the roof is damaged and water can enter the building, placing a tarp over any holes can offer a short-term fix until the roof can be properly repaired. Save any receipts for these repairs to submit to the insurance company later for reimbursement.
Staying Organized After Property Damage
While sudden property damage can be stressful for a small business, staying organized throughout the process can help prevent delays and potential claim denials. Retain copies of all documents submitted to the insurance company, in addition to any paperwork provided by the insurance company.
Also, business owners should create a list of all names and phone numbers of individuals that they contacted during the claims filing process in case they need to reach back out to them with questions or information.
Protect Your Practice with Hawaii Business Insurance
Disasters can strike at any time, and it is important for Hawaii small businesses to be prepared for the unexpected. The experienced insurance agents at Atlas have extensive experience assisting businesses through the claims filing process.