No one ever wants to file an insurance claim. But still, if you are a small business, it’s better to be prepared for the worst and be able to file your claim expediently when necessary. This way, you will be sure to get paid out fast. And doing things the right way is important, especially when the consequences of filing incorrectly or too late can lead to a claim getting denied. The process for filing will depend on your specific circumstances. Still, the following steps should help any business owner properly file their commercial property claim.

Understand Your Policy – What is Your Premium?

Of course, it always pays first to find out the costs involved when it comes to insurance. You probably already know one cost, your monthly premium. This is the cost that your firm pays each month for coverage. The cost of your firm’s insurance policy will depend on various factors.

These factors include:

  • The specific work that you do
  • How dangerous your industry is statistically
  • Past claim history
  • Where your business operates
  • What sort of coverage is required
  • And other details specific to your commercial insurance policy.

What you might not know is what your policy covers precisely. Helping you figure out your risk is the job of an insurance professional. Still, if you aren’t sure what your costs are when it comes to insurance, be sure to take the time to study your policy’s details as soon as possible.

It is also vital at this point to know exactly how long you have to file a claim. This timeframe is another factor that can vary depending on the circumstances. Most policies will stipulate how long after the accident a claim will be accepted—typically a 30-or 60-day window. You can have as little as seven business days to file a claim in some cases. The takeaway is don’t dilly dally when it comes to getting your claim in.

Document Everything

This next step has been made all the easier by the fact that almost everyone has easy access to a high-quality camera thanks to their smartphone. Still, documenting evidence of what has happened is vital to making sure a claim is successful. You can never have too much evidence.

It can also be a good idea to have a set of photos that show the normal condition of your property. Photos that show the conditions of your property beforehand will go a long way in proving damages (and a claim’s merit) when compared with post-incident documentation. That means the best time to take some photos is right now before anything has gone wrong.

If a Crime has Occurred, File a Police Report

In instances of theft or other crimes, many insurance companies will require a copy of a police report to be filed along with any claims. Getting the police involved is also a standard procedure for any vehicle-related claims. Some are hesitant to engage the police for whatever reason. Don’t worry about being a bother. Administrative work related to insurance claims actually takes up a fair amount of a typical officer’s time. Some officers are so good at it that they can find work as claim adjusters once they retire.

Talk to Your Broker – File Your Claim

Once you have everything you think you might need gathered together, it is time to contact your insurance company. Your agent is an excellent first point of contact. Your insurance agent will be able to explain how the claims process works. They will also be able to confirm what documents are necessary and answer any remaining questions you may have.

Work With Your Claims Adjuster

Once a claim is filed, your insurance provider will assign a claims adjuster to your case. The claims adjuster will review your file. They may ask for more information as needed. The adjuster is the person who will ultimately decide how much liability the company holds, so it pays to be forthright, expedient, and genial when working with them.

Gather a Team of Professionals

At this point is when you will need to assemble a quality team of experts to help you through the rest of the process. Your team may need everything from repairmen who can make things right to lawyers who can help guide larger claims successfully through the process. When getting estimates for work to be done, always get at least two. If the damage requires immediate work, you may have to pay out of pocket and wait for your claim to come in for reimbursement.

There can also be tax implications that may make some want to hire a tax professional. And if there may have been financial irregularities to investigate, a forensic accountant can help business owners sort things out.

When Will I Hear Back About My Claim?

The statutes that govern the amount of time an insurer has to pay a claim will vary by state. It will also be dependent on other factors such as how complex your case is, how big the claim is, and whether there are any disputes that may interrupt processing it. How long it can take to hear back about your claim will largely depend on the state you live in. However, in a state like Massachusetts, there are no rigid timelines when it comes to automobile-related claims. Still, others like California require companies to at least respond within fifteen days.

Be sure to keep an open line of communication with your insurance company while waiting for a final judgment. Whatever you do, don’t destroy any documentation until you are sure you won’t need it anymore. The claims process can take weeks to complete, if not months. Try to be patient. Good luck!