When you experience property damage or theft at your place of business, it is only natural to want full restitution as expediently as possible and with minimal hassle. However, this will require a claim to be filed with your property insurance carrier. This process is not as straightforward as you might think, especially for those who have never filed before.
Here are a few of the common errors that can cause your claim to be delayed, underpaid, or flat-out denied.
COMMON MISTAKES IN THE INSURANCE CLAIMS PROCESS
- Not immediately alerting your insurance carrier. Do not delay in starting the claims process! The longer you wait, the more latitude you are giving your insurance company to deny the claim based upon a failure to provide notice, and the more difficult it will be for you to gather the evidence you need.
- Not documenting everything. As soon as you can safely do so, take photographs of the area(s) impacted by your claim. Submit this photographic evidence to your insurance carrier, along with a written explanation of the damage. It is helpful for you to provide receipts or other evidence that indicates the valuation of the damaged item(s).
- Not complying with your insurer’s instructions. If you want your claim to be resolved promptly, you will need to cooperate with your insurance company. Carefully review whatever directions they send you, including guidelines for mitigating further property loss, and follow those directions. If you do not understand or are worried about how to properly respond to your insurance company’s instructions, directions, or questions, you may wish to consider calling an attorney to assist you.
- Disposing of damaged property. You may be tempted to discard the damaged property, but make sure you hold on to it long enough for the insurance adjuster to inspect it. Do not throw anything out until you have properly documented the damage or the insurance company expressly tells you that you may.
- Not calling the police. Review your policy carefully, because in some cases, the insurance company will ask for a police report, particularly if the issue is theft or vandalism. Failure to do so may harm your claim. Note that this is an area where your small business policy may differ from a standard homeowner’s policy, so again, review your coverage carefully.
- Accepting the insurance company’s appraisals. If you believe that the insurance adjuster substantially undervalued your property, you can appeal their decision or seek independent appraisals from third parties. You do not have to accept the initial estimate your insurance company gives you.
- Admitting blame. It is the same principle as when you are involved in an automobile accident: it is best not to admit fault or accept blame, even if you actually do think you caused the damage somehow.
- Losing track of your claim. Have a few weeks gone by since you last heard from your insurance adjuster? Do not assume that the process is working itself out. Reach out and ask for a status report and keep documentation of all your check-ins with the insurance adjuster.
- Not seeking legal representation when you need it. Finally, just remember that if you believe your claim is not being handled fairly, you can always seek the expertise of an attorney. McLaurin Law is here to advise homeowners and business owners concerning their insurance-related issues.
If you have questions or require assistance with your insurance claim, do not hesitate to reach out to the insurance attorneys at McLaurin Law today. To Speak with McLaurin Law Representative call today.
Jason McLaurin is a founding member of McLaurin Law. He has over a decade of experience representing clients at trial, arbitration, and mediation in matters concerning insurance policyholder recovery disputes, complex commercial litigation, and catastrophic personal injury claims. He also represents businesses as outside general counsel for clients in a variety of industries including construction, oil and gas, maritime, technology, and professional services. He is licensed and handles matters in both Texas and Louisiana.