Learn how to handle a small business insurance claim. What to do when something goes wrong at your business like a theft, fire, or slip and fall incident.
How To Handle A Small Business Insurance Claim
Dealing with an commercial insurance claim is far more difficult than most business owners expect. An incident such as a flood, fire, slip and fall or theft at your premises could ultimately lead to the closure of your business. You may think that your business insurance protects you against every possible accident and incident, but there are several things you must do to ensure continuity of your business when a disaster strikes. Learn how to handle a small business insurance claim. The following steps will reduce the impact of an incident, and help you to begin or continue operating again as soon as possible.
Get Professional Advice When Buying Business Insurance
Auto and home insurance are fairly simple products, and most people can buy coverage without getting profesional advice. Business insurance is far more complex, and arranging insurance for it requires both experience and expertise. A professional insurance broker will take the time to understand your business and the risks it's exposed to. Thry will be able to advise on the types and levels of cover required, and present you with a range of options - for risks you might not even be aware of.
Be Prepared For The Worst Case Scenario
Some business owners assume that they will never suffer from an incident and need to make a claim. How to handle a small business insurance claim. Being prepared can make things much easier if something does happen. Have your insurance documents in good order, and keep copies away from the business premises. If there is a fire or major incident at your premises you may not be able to reach paperwork and files there. Have the telephone numbers of your insurance broker and any claims phone numbers where you can access them quickly.
Even small businesses should have a basic disaster recovery plan. This should include contact numbers for your staff, suppliers and major customers. Make a list of key staff and what their roles will be if a major incident occurs.
Contact Your Broker Early
Contact your broker as soon as you suffer an incident or loss which may give rise to a claim on your commercial insurance. Some policies exclude claims which aren't notified within a specific time period. An incident may initially look small and not worthy of a claim, but costs can often escalate. A good insurance broker will get involved in a claim and visit your premises to help you at the initial stages. Make a note of everything discussed with your broker, as it's easy to forget things with the stress of what's happened.
Inform Interested Parties
Good communication is essential when a business suffers an incident which will affect operations. Explain to your staff what has happened and what plans are in place to deal with incident. Competitors may be sympathetic in the early stages, but some will look to exploit the situation and win business from your customers. Speak to your customers and reassure them that you will still be able to fulfill orders and deliver what they need. The insurance company's loss adjuster should be able to help you with this process.
Good communication is essential when a business suffers an incident which will affect trading. Explain to your staff what has happened and what plans are in place to deal with incident. Competitors may be sympathetic in the early stages, but some will look to exploit the situation and win business from your customers. Speak to your customers and reassure them that you will still be able to fulfill orders and deliver what they need. The insurance company's loss adjuster should be able to help you with this process.
You might also want to read are business insurance claims considered taxable income? for more information on tax consquences.
Decide If You Need Legal Support
The insurance company will appoint a loss adjuster, but their role isn't to complete the claim form and negotiate on your behalf. It's worth considering hiring your own independent claims professional for larger claims. A public adjuster will work for a percentage of the claim settlement, and will negotiate hard to get the maximum amount possible. Ask about professional qualifications and experience before appointing a public adjuster, as their quality and experience varies.
Work With Your Broker And Insurance Company
An insurance company may try to negotiate the claim settlement to a lower figure, but it's important to maintain a positive relationship. The company will want to get you operation again as soon as possible to reduce any business income claim. Cooperate with your broker and insurance company, and follow their advice and instructions. If you make the claim process easier for all parties involved you will achieve settlement more quickly.
Get Help From Colleagues And Staff
Dealing with a small business insurance claim can be very time consuming. Ask colleagues and staff to help where they can and share the workload. Your accountant or finance department can help calculate figures for a business income claim. Don't try to do everything yourself or you may lose sight of running the business.
Don't Accept The First Offer.
Business insurance claims are always negotiable, so don't accept the first offer. Claims for business inco,e are particularly flexible, so state your case with supporting evidence and press for the best offer possible. Don't let a claim drag on if you are close to agreeing a settlement figure, and be prepared to accept lower figures for some aspects of the claim if the process is stalling.
How To Handle A Small Business Insurance Claim - The Bottom Line
We hope this article on how to handle a small business insurance claim has been informative. After suffering a loss and making an insurance claim, take some time to review what happened and consider what lessons can be learned. Can you take steps to make things easier if something happens again? Did your insurance broker offer the level of support you expected? Your insurance company may recommend changes that can be made to reduce the risk of further claims, but you should also think about this yourself.