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What to Expect When Filing a Self-Storage Insurance Claim

By Melanie Wichelman Comments
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There are many risks and exposures involved in owning a self-storage facility, and most operators—even those that are proactive—will face the need to file an insurance claim from time to time. Knowing the steps involved can make the process smoother and help turn a negative incident into a more positive experience.

Your Role

In the perfect scenario, you have the proper self-storage insurance coverages in place and are proactive in limiting risk at your facility. So, what do you do when a dreaded incident occurs? For those of you who have experienced the need to file a claim, you know it typically isn’t a pleasant situation. Emotions can be heightened, and people can be frantic. Depending on the type of incident, it can even be scary. Take a few breaths and try to remain calm.

First, collect all documentation relevant to the situation. Take notes on the date and time as well as full names and contact information of everyone involved. Incident reports are very handy, especially in injury-related claims. Pictures can be helpful if there are damages to a building, vehicle or other property. In these scenarios, more information is better.

Keep all these items together and organized so they’re easily accessible when you report your insurance claim or provide information to the claims adjuster. Your agent is there to help and will guide you through the reporting process.

In cases where 911 is called, ensure everyone on the scene is safe. Once the situation is under control, call your insurance agent to discuss the incident. He’ll assist you in completing a loss notice to submit to your carrier. It will require a short description of what happened along with the date of loss and the details of everyone involved.

Many agents will submit the loss notice to the carrier for you directly. Most are like an intake center—they won’t be able to determine if coverage will be afforded, but they’ll submit everything to the insurance company and get the right people involved on your behalf.

Depending on the agent or carrier, you may need to send additional documentation such as incident reports, pictures, police reports, etc. These items may be specifically requested once an adjuster has been assigned to your claim.

The Claims Adjustor

After the claim has been submitted to the insurance carrier, it’ll be assigned a number and adjuster. While you can normally expect a call from the adjuster within a few days, it may take longer if there’s been a natural disaster. It’s important to ask your agent for a realistic timeline so you don’t set unreasonable expectations.

The adjuster will be your best point of contact in working to settle the claim. He’ll gather information from you and may even conduct a physical inspection at your facility. This is why it’s critical to give him your best contact information. This simple step can be missed and cause delays.

If you performed any repairs or incurred other expenses as a result of the incident, document everything and inform your adjuster. Providing copies of bills, receipts and invoices will allow him to factor this into the claim analysis. It’s important to communicate with your adjuster and cooperate with him on all requests. This will help settle the claim as quickly as possible, resulting in a faster payment.

Up-to-Date Policy

Self-storage is a unique business. There are specialized providers that can insure your facility with the coverages that best fit your needs. Talk to your agent to understand your limits and advise him of any facility changes to keep your policy up-to-date and your coverages adequate. Keep the agent’s information and a copy of your policy readily available. It’ll come in handy in the event of an incident, as your agent will be your first point of contact.

If you do face a claim event, use it as a learning experience to help prevent future issues. The more proactive you are, the better off you’ll be. An unexpected occurrence is always possible, but by being prepared and knowing how to handle it, you’ll expedite your claim process and make it as painless as possible.

Melanie Wichelman is an account executive with Universal Insurance Programs, which has created and provided specialized insurance coverages to the self-storage industry for more than 20 years. For more information, call 800.844.2101; visit www.universalinsuranceltd.com.

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