Because you’re an informed consumer, as part of your preparation, you should maintain a complete inventory of covered property, including receipts or appraisals supporting the cost and/or value of the insured items.
Eventually, most business owners will be forced to deal with a loss and have to make a claim on their insurance. Either an accident or a storm or some other sort of incidence will create a need for prompt action by the entrepreneur. Suggestions for response include:
o Immediately get help for anyone who has become injured.
o Notify the police in the event of criminal activity or automobile accident and get a copy of the police report.
o Consider whether emergency repairs are necessary to prevent further damage.
o Contact your insurance agent or insurance company representative with as much information as you can provide.
o Certainly avoid discussion of fault or blame for an accident.
o Leave the scene intact. Don’t alter the property’s condition until it has been inspected by an insurance adjuster, except for emergency repairs necessary to control further damage.
o Take photos as documentation of the scene.
o Prepare a written explanation of your claim as follow-up to your initial call.
Most policies specify a timeframe for reporting losses – 24, 48 or 72 hours are common requirements. Failure to report the loss on a timely basis can result in denied coverage. You don’t have to file the claim within this period, but you do need to report the loss.
What if Someone Get Injured on Your Premises?
Built into most commercial insurance policies is a separate limit of insurance called “Medical Payments” or “Med Pay”. This limit exists because everyone knows it’s cheaper and easier for everyone involved to stay out of court when at all possible. Therefore, in order to prevent a lawsuit, if someone is injured on your premises, regardless of whose fault it is, make sure they feel taken care of.
Pay the deductible on their health insurance and for the expensive ambulance trip. The insurance company provides this limit as “free money” to reimburse you. Just keep track of receipts and expenses and submit it to the insurance company. Everyone wins and this is what insurance is for.
What if Someone Sues You?
If you have liability coverage, your insurance company will provide an attorney to represent you. In most cases (but not always), the insurance company pays the attorney without deducting the legal costs from your liability limits.
Most often, you will find the insurance company’s attorney to be an appropriate representative of your interests. You should, definitely however, make your own attorney aware of the proceedings, just in case
- There is any likelihood that an exception to coverage could apply
- The liability might exceed your liability insurance limits
- You think that a settlement is not in your best interest
By James Clapton