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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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.

How to Know When You Should Hire a Public Adjuster

How to Know When You Should Hire a Public Adjuster

Whether it’s for the home or a business, filing a property insurance claim is stressful. While a business owner may not be dealing with the same sort of sentimental losses they’d encounter if something happened to their home, they do have concerns about how a loss will affect their company and their workforce. Business owners have busy schedules, which means they don’t have time to deal with insurers’ stall tactics. However, a public adjuster works on your behalf, correctly interpreting your policy and negotiating with your insurer to settle the claim. Here, you’ll learn a few compelling reasons to hire a public adjuster before making a claim.

Getting a Better Settlement

Though a public adjuster receives a portion of your settlement, recoveries are typically higher even after fees. As an owner, you likely don’t have time to read the fine print on your insurance policy, but that’s a public adjuster’s job. During a claim, a public adjuster will use his or her policy knowledge to ensure you get the largest possible settlement.

Digging Deeper

Policyholders often don’t realize which types of damages they can claim, and that’s just the way insurers like it. When filing a claim, public adjusters know which types of coverage to look for, and they may uncover problems not detected by the insurance adjuster.

Focusing on Your Business

With the help of a public adjuster, you can shift your focus from the claim back to your business. In most cases, work must continue, even after a significant loss. When you work with a public adjuster, you can go back to running your company without worrying about the minute details of a property damage claim.

Getting Faster Results

As a business owner, it’s your goal to sort your claim out so you can put the loss behind you and get on with things. However, insurers sometimes delay claims for unknown reasons. Public adjusters are well-versed in the claims process, and they know which documents to include during submission. A public adjuster knows about common hold-ups and how to avoid or handle them.

In Closing

Filing a property damage claim is a significant drain on your resources and time, just when the company needs your undivided attention. Today, business owners are increasingly realizing the advantages of working with public adjusters, such as reduced stress, bigger settlements, and increased claims documentation experience. It’s important to choose a public adjuster who is licensed to work in your state. While requirements vary, in every case, you should evaluate public adjusters thoroughly before making a hiring decision.

High-pressure sales tactics are a big sign to look elsewhere, as are a lack of industry and personal references. When considering hiring a public adjuster, be sure to ask for references from cases they’ve handled over the last few years and contact them if possible. It may seem tedious and time-consuming to verify multiple references, but if you have suffered a severe loss at your place of business, it’s important to have an experienced, capable adjuster in your corner.

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.

Hurricane Michael: Do You Have Your Public Adjuster On Speed Dial?

Hurricane Michael: Do You Have Your Public Adjuster On Speed Dial?

The professionals at Globe Midwest Adjusters International have been closely monitoring Hurricane Michael and its aftermath. We understand that when devastation strikes, it not only affects your business and property, but also YOU, as the chaos, confusion and conflicting information regarding your property and insurance policies can be overwhelming.

Globe Midwest represents commercial property and business owners, and works with property managers, law firms and CPAs to ensure policyholders navigate the insurance claim process and receive a fair and just settlement of their property insurance claim!

We understand how important it is to get your business and/or property back up and running.

How can Globe Midwest help you?

If your business or commercial property suffered any type of severe damage for which you an insurance claim will be made . . .

    • We will review and explain your insurance policy and the available coverage applicable to your claim, including additional coverages such as code upgrade, etc . . .
    • Investigate and analyze all property damage to your building, commercial contents and business.
    • Prepare a well-documented repair cost estimate on your building and all damaged and destroyed contents.
    • Coordinate all inspections and meetings with the insurance company’s employee/adjusters including all of their “outside experts”
    • Review all relevant financial information and financial projections to determine best approach for your business interruption claim.
    • Communicate with the insurance company adjuster and their forensic accountant to obtain ongoing agreements and partial payments throughout the claim period.
    • Provide project management services for a streamlined experience during remediation activities.

If you or your clients have affected commercial properties or businesses please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

A Public Adjuster Can Help Resolve Your Property Insurance Claim In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Michael

The Best Ways to Speed up the Insurance Claim Settlement Process

The Best Ways to Speed up the Insurance Claim Settlement Process

When your business or home is damaged, life becomes complicated enough without the additional hassle of pushing for a settlement. However, it often becomes a long, drawn-out process. While it seems unfair, it makes sense; when it’s your property that’s damaged, you’re the one with the most motivation to move things forward. When a settlement hits a roadblock, use these tactics to expedite the process.

Know About Your Policy

When you’ve got an understanding of your property insurance policy, you have the confidence to protect your rights. Every move an insurer makes is based on agreements, conditions, endorsements, exclusions, and policy definitions. These components define what the insurer owes you and what you must do to get what you deserve. If any of the language in your policy documents is unclear, ask your public adjuster for clarification.

Learn About Your Legal Rights

Your state’s consumer laws may give you additional rights, and one of your first steps should be to check the insurance commissioner’s website for information on the Unfair Claim Practices Act. Tell the insurance adjuster that you know your rights and the company’s responsibilities for claims contact, follow-up, and settlement.

Document Everything

As with most things related to insurance, it’s crucial to document everything during the claims process. After protecting your property from additional damage (as stipulated by your policy), it’s time to report the claim. Next, start taking notes and gathering documents. Your consistent knowledge, involvement, and documentation will prove the claim, and when the insurance adjuster denies making a statement, your notes will show who said what. Have a Way to Keep Track of Everything It’s an insurance adjuster’s job to monitor everything, and to level the playing field, you should do the same. Keep receipts and paperwork in a binder and use a computer to keep chronological notes. However, after a power outage or a flood, a notebook is an easy and convenient way to write down the day, time, and date of significant claims activity such as:

  • Preliminary and follow-up phone calls to your insurer and contractors
  • Conversations with insurance and public adjusters, so you won’t have to pull details from memory
  • Contractor receipts and estimates for emergency loss mitigation expenses Receipts for temporary office space or accommodations
  • Proof of expenses related to business interruption

Submit Proof of Your Losses

In the insurance industry, “proof of loss” is the documentation needed to substantiate your claim; it’s also a list of the claim’s formal details. Some insurance adjusters provide a form for claimants to fill out and submit, while others ask for proof in the form of repair estimates, property documentation, and receipts. When an insurance or public adjuster asks for proof of loss, be sure to ask exactly what they’re looking for.

Get the Right Kind of Help

Filing a property insurance claim is complex, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle. With help and advocacy from a public adjuster, it’s easier to navigate the process and get the settlement to which you’re entitled.