If you own and operate a small business and have purchased insurance policies to protect your company, that is a great first step. However, the insurance only comes in more-than-handy if you follow the right protocols. Unfortunately, some accidents or forms of damage are unavoidable, and you need to be prepared. Prematurely cleaning up the damage and failing to document it are just two of the common mistakes small business owners tend to make when filing insurance claims.
Not Reacting Immediately
One of the biggest mistakes a small business makes when filing insurance claims is not contacting their business owners insurance company immediately. You should react right away, avoid cleaning up the damage, and call your insurer as soon as you can. If a disaster has occurred, an insurance inspector will be out shortly to survey the damage. The only repairs to be made should be to emergency fixes, such as putting out a fire or stopping a leak.
Failing to Document the Damage
As soon as you contact your insurance company about the damage, you should begin documenting it. Before touching the damage, document it with detailed descriptions and pictures of each angle and piece of damaged property or possessions. This should always be done before any type of repairs or cleaning up with the exception of emergency repairs.
Poor Quality Photographs
As an extension to documenting damage, you must be sure the photos of the damage and scene are crisp and clear and show the damage with as much detail as possible. You want more than one or two photographs if possible. Try to get as many detailed pictures as you can, both from a distance and up close. In some cases, the insurance company will also take photographs, but small businesses should take it upon themselves to get their own photos as they will be very helpful later on. Photos taken before damage has occurred is helpful.
Not Reading the Fine Print
When you first get business insurance, the policy details and contract are important to be aware of. Don’t just sign on the dotted line and forget it; read the entire policy and understand not only what kind of insurance and protection you have, but the details about your coverage and what is expected of you. That way when you go file a claim, you are aware of what needs to be done.
Lack of Preparations
The mistakes of filing insurance claims start before damage has been done. After reading through your insurance policies carefully, you should prepare with a plan in case a fire, flood, theft, or other cause of damage occurs. This means keeping your insurance policy in a fire and water-proof safe, knowing where the safe deposit box is, having a list of contacts if you need it, and knowing where the most important items are if you need to make a quick escape, such as in a natural disaster.
Cleaning Up and Moving Damage
Even though by now you have properly documented and photographed the damage, it doesn’t mean you should begin cleaning up and moving the damaged goods. You need to keep things intact at least until the insurance inspector arrives and makes his own documentations. Do not move your damaged goods or begin cleaning up the scene unless it is an emergency. You should also keep damaged goods until the claim has been filed and processed.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can have a successful interaction with your insurance company and get good results from your claim. Keep these things in mind and make the right preparations before damage occurs.