If the amount of your loss exceeding any applicable policy deductible is small, the entire claim may be handled over the phone and by mail. However, significant losses will generally be handled by either a company or independent adjuster, who will be assigned to work with you through the process. If the loss involves a third-party liability claim against you, your insurance company will most likely retain an attorney to represent and defend you.
In all cases, your claim is most likely to be handled well if you develop a close working relationship with the claims adjuster and attorney assigned to your case. Keep them up to date on claim-related developments—repair estimates, notices, etc. Provide them with information to help establish the amount of your claim. Run permanent repair or replacement bids by your adjuster before approving them and getting the work done to avoid conflicts after you have incurred those costs. If your claim includes a loss of rental income, historical records of occupancy, rental income, unit turnover or historical rent-up periods for your facility or in your market will be important in proving your loss.
You want your insurance company to pay you full value for insured losses. The adjuster’s job is to be sure the amounts paid by your company are in line with their contract―not less and not more. Your best path to receiving your full contract benefit is to establish a good relationship with your claims adjuster and keep an open line of communication on all parts of your claim with him.
If you believe you have a problem with the adjuster that cannot be resolved, it’s important to discuss this with your insurance agent or representative. It’s always in the best interests of the insurance customer and company to have a claim resolved in a reasonable and agreeable manner according to the policy contract rather than to have a dispute delay its resolution.
While a solid foundation of appropriate insurance and good documentation helps assure maximum indemnification for your claim, it’s timely cooperation that will move the process quickly to a successful conclusion.
Scott Lancaster is the regulatory compliance officer for Deans & Homer, which has provided insurance products designed to respond to the unique risks of the self-storage industry since 1974. Lancaster started his insurance career in 1976 as a licensed insurance agent and broker in California. For more information, call 800.847.9999; visit www.self-storage-insurance.com.