As business and property owners deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, their minds will turn to insurance as they seek to assess the damage, get essential services back on line, start the clean-up process and eventually, start rebuilding.
Unfortunately, insurance is not always as reliable as it should be. Particularly in circumstances where insurance companies have suffered major losses, such as following Hurricane Irma, they may try to avoid claims even if the policyholder has paid the premiums and provided all of the renewal information requested each year.
Our insurance team specialises in ensuring that insurance claims are paid. Here we share our seven top tips for making sure that claims are paid in full:
Notify your insurer that you intend to file a claim as soon as possible. Often insurance policies require that you give notice of a claim within a certain time frame, and any delay in doing so may compromise the claim altogether.
Even if the details of your loss are still being investigated, a simple letter or call stating your intention to claim will usually suffice.
Take photos and/or videos of the damage as soon as possible. Make a list of all damage that has been caused by the event; the stronger the evidence in support of a claim, the more likely it is to be successful.
Save receipts and contracts, and document phone calls in writing. Note the name of the person you spoke with, the date and what was discussed.
Take any steps available to prevent further damage being caused, for example, covering broken windows with plastic sheets or boarding. If you fail to take reasonable steps to protect your property after the event, your insurer may not cover any damage caused to it subsequently.
Review a copy of your insurance policy (and if you don't have the insurance policy, contact your broker) and consider how best to present your claim before doing so. Look at the information you have to provide the insurer with, and the time limits for doing so. Check whether there are any exclusions of cover, or conditions that may prevent you from claiming.
In a crisis situation it is critical that you comply with the small print of your insurance policies otherwise you may find yourself without valid insurance cover.
If possible, agree a jointly appointed insurance adjustor who will inspect your property and assess the level of damage. Do not remove damaged property or make permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster has completed its inspection – the insurer will want to inspect the property before repairs begin.
If your insurer insists on sending its own loss adjustor and you disagree with its findings, don't forget that you are entitled to appoint your own loss adjustor to get a second opinion.
Once you have made your claim, be patient with the time it takes for it to be processed; insurers will have a large number of claims to deal with and it may take time for you to receive compensation.
But to progress your matter, be persistent – chase your insurer regularly to receive updates on the progress of your claim.
- Know when to ask an expert!
If you are unsure of whether your policy will respond, or if you need assistance with the progress of your claim, it may be worth obtaining professional advice.
If you wish to discuss any of your concerns further, the Insurance team will be happy to help. For more information, please contact Richard Leedham or Sonia Campbell.