How to Be Sure You’re Meeting the Requirements in Your Commercial Property Damage Insurance Claim

How to Be Sure You’re Meeting the Requirements in Your Commercial Property Damage Insurance Claim

When your property sustains damage, the commercial insurance claim that follows is a considerable burden to shoulder, and it places multiple complicated and critical responsibilities in your lap. Though every policy varies, the key to success in navigating them is the same: knowledge is power.

First and foremost, each commercial insurance policy is different. However, there are responsibilities to which property owners are typically held by their insurance companies during a commercial insurance claim. When your property sustains damage, what follows is a whirlwind of activity: you will be responsible for many simultaneously moving pieces under specific, critical deadlines. Minimize the hecticness of the situation by remaining organized and accountable. In most commercial insurance claim scenarios, you as the insured will be held to the following responsibilities:

Time-Sensitive Requirements

Right off the bat, know that a commercial insurance claim is not a linear process. It is made up of several important deadlines, and you will have to juggle many responsibilities at the same time. One of the most crucial elements of your claim to know is the time requirements outlined within it. Comb through your policy to determine deadlines for the following:

  • Notifying your insurance company of the loss
  • Mitigation efforts and costs
  • Rebuilding and replacement costs
  • Disputing any aspect of your claim

Know Your Policy

When taking on the challenge of studying your commercial insurance policy, keep the following in mind:

  • Be aware of which risks are insured by your policy and which are not.
  • Understand the extent to which damage to your property’s structure, fixtures, and furnishings are covered.
  • Know your policy limit in order to determine your own financial responsibility.
  • Know and document what the value of your property was prior to the loss.
  • Calculate and document the cost of restoring your property to pre-loss condition.

By knowing these essentials, you’ll empower yourself to determine the parameters of both your responsibilities and your insurance company’s. Due to the complicated and high-stakes nature of a commercial insurance claim, it is extremely advisable that you consult with a public adjuster throughout this process.

Prompt Notification

Once you have ensured that the destructive event is over and your people are safe, you must notify your insurance company of the damage to your property.

Duty to Mitigate

Your insurance company will conduct a thorough investigation of the damages following your commercial insurance claim. However, it is your obligation (that’s right, your insurance policy states that you must) take all available measures to prevent further damage.

Document Damaged Property

It is difficult to stress how important documentation is in the midst of a commercial insurance claim. You are responsible for accounting for and demonstrating the items in/on your property that will need replacing.

  • Take detailed photos and videos of the damaged segments of your property.
  • Keep a written record of the destruction, outlining all of the items and structures that have sustained damage. You are responsible for providing your insurance company with the values of your lost business items, so take care to be as detailed as possible.
  • Include serial numbers, receipts of purchase, and thorough descriptions of the items and structures needing replacement whenever possible. This will raise the likelihood that you’ll be reimbursed fairly by your insurance company.

Navigating the clauses and seemingly endless pages of a commercial insurance policy can make property owners feel as though they’re barely staying afloat. As complex as a commercial property insurance policy can be, it is crucial that you understand the obligations placed on you when you’ve experienced a property loss and need to make a commercial insurance claim. Your insurance policy is a contract – both you and your insurance company have responsibilities to uphold it with diligence and integrity. By remembering this and taking the outlined steps, you’ll be poised to face this challenge head on.

Commercial Property Damage: An Insurance Claims Primer

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Insurance Claims Primer as a resource to help you through the turmoil.

Commercial Property Damage: An Insurance Claims Primer

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CPCU Society Jason Martell Designation

CPCU Society Jason Martell Designation

Globe Midwest Adjusters International was proud to attend the 2018 CPCU Society New Designee Conferment ceremony on November 7th 2018 at the Glen Oak Country Club in Farmington Hills Michigan to support and honor our valued team member, Jason Martell, as a new designee of the CPCU Society.

CPCU is an acronym for “Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter” which is the most prominent industry designation an insurance professional can attain; CPCU’s are considered to be property-casualty insurance subject matter experts. Achieving the designation of CPCU is a very rigorous and detailed process that culminates in a series of eight national exams on topics including insurance law, accounting, risk management, and ethics. As a new designee Jason also accepted a Code of Professional Ethics, placing his clients’ needs before that of his own.

SVP of Business Development, Stuart Dorf, joined Jason at the conferment ceremony to represent Globe Midwest’s pride on this momentous occasion. Stuart shared, “On behalf of Globe Midwest, we would like to congratulate Jason on his CPCU designation, it is an incredible achievement and we are so honored and proud to have Jason as a part of our team.”

As the Midwest’s largest and oldest public adjusting firm, Globe Midwest Adjusters International’s core focus is exclusively representing property and business owners, during the insurance claim process, to maximize and expedite our clients’ insurance claim settlement. With offices in Southfield and Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as Chicago, Illinois, we are experienced with the types of natural disasters that strike the Midwest, the companies that insure here, and how local claims are handled.

Since opening in 1924, the firm has represented over 15,000 residential and commercial policyholders during the insurance claim process to ensure each received a fair and just settlement.

Beyond Basics Open House

Beyond Basics Open House

On October 17th 2018, Globe Midwest Adjusters International was proud to support Beyond Basics, a nonprofit literacy organization. Two members of Globe Midwest’s team – including VP and COO Ethan Gross and SVP of Business Development Stuart Dorf — attended an open house celebration in honor of the organization’s new classroom and training center at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit, Michigan.

Gross and Dorf joined other local industry leaders in support of Beyond Basics which has been providing quality reading, tutoring, and supplemental programs – writing, art, mentoring, and partnerships – for students in grades Pre-K through 12 in Detroit public schools since 2002.

As the Midwest’s largest and oldest public adjusting firm, Globe Midwest Adjusters International’s core focus is exclusively representing property and business owners, during the insurance claim process, to maximize and expedite our clients’ insurance claim settlement.

With offices in Southfield and Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as Chicago, Illinois, we are experienced with the types of natural disasters that strike the Midwest, the companies that insure here, and how local claims are handled.

Since opening in 1924, the firm has represented over 15,000 residential and commercial policyholders during the insurance claim process to ensure each received a fair and just settlement.

Three Reasons Your Insurance Agent Cannot Help You With Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim

Three Reasons Your Insurance Agent Cannot Help You With Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim

Every day, insurance agents help craft and put into place the right insurance coverage for commercial property and business owners. But buying commercial property insurance is different than using your insurance. In the event you have to use your insurance — that is, you’ve suffered commercial property damage — a whole new set of rules, regulations and timeframes come into play. The terms of your insurance policy places the responsibility squarely on you, the policyholder, to prove and substantiate your claim.

This realization can be frustrating, intimidating, and may leave you feeling helpless when you are thrown into the complex world of a commercial property insurance claim. Below are three reasons to help you understand why your agent is limited in his or her ability to help you with your claim, and where you can find the help you need.

Agents Work in the Front of the House

Compare the insurance industry to a restaurant. There’s the “front of the house,” where a trained staff sells the customers what they want. And there’s the “back of the house,” where the chef, prep crew, and dishwashers toil to make everything about the meal look appetizing.

Agents work in the front of the house. And they work hard to provide a quality service for their commercial insurance customers. But expecting them to do it all — take your order, prepare your meal, and do your dishes — is a setup for disappointment.

Insurance Carriers Control the Claim Process

Filing a commercial insurance claim is like playing a game with someone who knows the rules far better than you, and they are not required to tell you how to play.

When you report your loss, which your insurance policy requires you to do promptly, you are passed immediately to the Claims Department — a division within the insurance company designed exclusively to protect the interests of the carrier, not the policyholder.

The insurance company’s claims adjuster will investigate your loss, which you are required by your policy to allow. He or she also will create an estimate of your damages, recommend vendors and contractors from within the carrier’s network for your repairs, and make a settlement offer. Your policy assumes you will provide your own proof, too.

Your Property, Your Responsibility

It may seem like your agent and/or insurance company should have to help you achieve a fair settlement when your commercial property is damaged. After all, you buy insurance so you will be compensated if you have a loss. But it’s your property, and therefore your responsibility, to determine what your damages are worth.

Filing a commercial property insurance claim is like any other major undertaking — you get out of it what you put into it. And there is much that goes into making sure you get the settlement you deserve:

  • Read and understand your entire policy, not just the Declarations Page(s).
  • Meet all the contractual obligations and deadlines in your policy.
  • Document your damages with numerous and detailed photos, video and written descriptions.
  • Determine how best to apply your policy coverages and endorsements.
  • Gather estimates for the replacement or repair of buildings, inventory, equipment, etc.
  • File all the necessary documents.
  • Prove and defend your valuations for damages.
  • Negotiate settlement amounts for damage to your building(s); FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment); additional incurred expenses; and, if endorsed to the policy, business interruption losses.

Public Adjusters Level the Playing Field

Ensuring a full and fair settlement for your damages takes time and requires you to become a master of many things — policy interpretation, mitigation, documentation, restoration, valuation, negotiation — all while you’re preoccupied with putting the rest of your life back together.

Your insurance carrier will maintain control of your claim process, but they cannot require you to go through it alone or force you to accept less than your damages are worth. You always have the option to consult with a licensed public insurance adjuster, which, in effect, serves as your own Claims Department.

Business Owner’s Guide to Getting the Most for Your Property Insurance Claim

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Disaster Recovery tips as a resource to help you through the turmoil.

Four Signals That You’ll Settle for Less Than Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim is Worth

Four Signals That You’ll Settle for Less Than Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim is Worth

It’s true: many of the claims an insurance company handles settle without dispute. But a lack of dispute does not mean the outcome was fair. In fact, our experience shows most commercial insurance policyholders are underpaid for their claim — and they don’t even know it.

Here are four signals commercial policyholders give their insurance companies when they are likely to settle for less than their claim is worth. If you’ve suffered commercial property damage and can check any of the boxes below, you may be giving off these signals and should consider talking with a public insurance adjuster about your commercial property insurance claim.

Failing to read and understand your policy

Admitting to your commercial insurance carrier that you don’t know or understand what is in your policy is the first clear signal that you are ripe for accepting a low settlement offer.

Of course knowing what’s in your policy is no small task. A commercial property insurance policy is typically 40-plus pages of the most confusing language known to humankind. Still, when you suffer property damage, the language in your policy is all that matters in your claim.

Failing to understand the terms of your commercial policy, especially if there’s been a substantial loss, is a clear call to have a public insurance adjuster review your policy and damages. Licensed public adjusters are policy and loss experts who work exclusively for policyholders. They have no affiliation with any insurance carriers and can give you a fair assessment of what to expect from your claim.

Relying on the insurance company for help in the claim process

Filing a commercial property damage claim is like taking a final exam on your first day of class. You might be able to guess correctly on some of the answers, but your chances of earning an “A” are slim.

Insurance companies are experts at controlling the claim process, and they have no obligation to educate you about it. In fact, all commercial insurance policies place the burden to prove a loss solely on the policyholder.

Written into your commercial policy is language that requires you to:

  • Meet all the contractual obligations and deadlines outlined in your policy. These include, but are not limited to, mitigation, prompt notification, and cooperation with your insurance company’s investigation of your loss.
  • Document the full extent of damage to your building(s) and contents with photos, video, and detailed written descriptions.
  • Substantiate the value of your damages with receipts, posted prices for the same or similar items, and other proof.
  • Present a demand for compensation that will provide sufficient funds to return your property to pre-loss condition.

Allowing the insurance company to lead this process is the sure path to a low settlement.

Claiming for only a portion of the loss

Unless you are a commercial insurance expert, you run a very real risk of being unable to uncover everything your policy promises. After all, if it were easy to uncover, all property claims would settle effortlessly and for the maximum amount available under the terms of the policy.

Often, when a commercial property insurance claim settles for less than it should, it is because the documentation is weak. When it comes to your commercial insurance claim, it is not possible to provide too much documentation of your damages, too much detail in your estimates to replace or repair your property, or too much proof of the property’s value at the time of loss. Fall short on any of these, and your settlement will fall short of compensating you for your loss.

Losing patience with the process

To settle a commercial insurance claim successfully requires you to suddenly become a master of policy language and interpretation, insurance and contract law, damage and repair estimates, construction and restoration methods and materials, project management, commercial insurance policy administration, and hardball negotiation — all while you’re trying to keep the rest of your life on track.

It’s risky to lose patience with the claim process. Commercial insurance claims take time to resolve. Signaling impatience sometimes can speed things up, but it comes at the cost of a lesser settlement.

Business Owner’s Guide to Getting the Most for Your Property Insurance Claim

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Disaster Recovery tips as a resource to help you through the turmoil.