When a storm damages the roof of your storage facility or someone is injured on your property, you may be faced with an insurance claim. That is not the time to learn how to file one. Losses can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to speed the claims process and get your facility back on track. Following are some suggestions for filing insurance claims.
The first thing you should do after a loss—and most business insurance policies require this—is take immediate action to protect your property against further damage. Depending on the circumstances of your particular loss, this might include calling a public utility to shut off the power to your premises, as in the case of flooding.
Assuming your claim is covered, the cost of any emergency measures should be picked up by your insurance company. It is, therefore, important to keep your receipts for repairs. Of course, if a loss forces you to evacuate your premises, you should notify the police department, especially if you are leaving your facility unlocked and unattended. Document all activities with photos, security videos and other evidence pertaining to the incident.
The next step is to create an inventory of any items that have been lost, stolen or damaged. This serves two purposes: It can help you generate an action plan for getting your facility back in operation and can greatly speed up the processing of your claim. Seeing the destruction of your business and personal property can be traumatic, especially in the case of a fire; but remember you should not dispose of any damaged goods until your claim has been fully investigated by your insurance adjuster.
Finally, get in touch with your insurance agent or broker as soon as possible after a loss. The more quickly he is contacted, the sooner your claim can be processed. Advise him of any loss or damage. In situations where you need to evacuate your premises or have lost access to public services, give your agent or broker a telephone number where you can be reached. Try to avoid discussing the circumstances of your claim with anyone except your agent or broker—doing otherwise may put your claim in jeopardy.
Liability losses involve damage to someone else’s property or injury to a person on your premises. If someone is injured at your facility, call for medical attention immediately and notify your insurance company. This may be a requirement of your policy. Liability claims are settled based on negligence, the failure to use the amount of care considered reasonable in a particular situation.
Get names of all witnesses and their statements about what happened. If the accident was a result of a permanent and dangerous condition on your property, fix it immediately. If there’s a recurring accident, you’ll be even more likely to be held responsible. As with property claims, it is important to document all activities with photos, videos and other evidence pertaining to the incident.
Filing Your Claim
For your loss to be considered by your insurance company, you will need to file a claim report. In most cases, your insurance agent can complete the report for you over the phone; although, in some instances, you may be required to file the form yourself. If possible, support your claim with photos or video of your property, before and after the loss or damage.
Give your agent or broker copies of all police and/or fire reports, repair receipts and other pertinent documentation. Once you have reported your claim to the agent or broker who represents you, he will immediately contact a claims adjuster, who represents the insurance company. While most claims are settled promptly and fairly, some are more complicated and may require some interaction on your part. In such cases, the claims adjuster will work with you to help resolve the claim to your satisfaction.
When your claim is settled, the amount the insurance company pays out to you might be subject to a deductible. Choosing a larger deductible allows the insurance company to charge a smaller premium, since you have agreed to pay a larger share of any incurred damages. Most self-storage owners choose a $1,000 property deductible on their insurance policies. You may want to check with your agent or broker to see how much you can save on your annual premium by choosing a larger deductible. No matter how large or small your selfstorage facility, adequate coverage is essential for protecting your business and your peace of mind.
This article was written as a guideline to minimize risk in self-storage facilities. The information is intended to be of general interest and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice, nor does the information represent a comprehensive statement of the issues discussed or the laws relating thereto.
Universal Insurance Facilities Ltd. offers a comprehensive package of coverages specifically designed to meet the needs of the self-storage industry. For more information, or to get a quick, no-obligation quote, call 800.844.2101; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.vpico.com/universal.