When a fire, accident or theft occurs at your business:
- Contact your insurance agent and company right away. Any burglaries or theft should also be reported to the police immediately.
- Read your insurance policy so that you know what your responsibilities are to your insurance company after a loss.
- After a disaster, take steps to protect your property from further damage by making temporary repairs. If immediate repairs to equipment are necessary, save the damaged parts in case the claims adjuster is interested in examining them.
- Get at least two bids on the cost to repair or replace damaged property.
When filing a business interruption claim, be able to show the income the business was generating both before and after the loss. Keep detailed records of business activity and the extra expenses of keeping your business operating in a temporary location during the interruption period. If you are forced to close down, include expenses that continue during the time that the business is closed, such as advertising and the cost of utilities.
If you are unhappy with how your claim was handled:
- Talk to your insurance agent or claims manager to explain your point of view.
- Call the consumer affairs or complaint department of your insurance company and tell them your story and why you think you deserve a larger settlement.
- Contact your state department of insurance about your problem.
- If you've tried all other options, consult an attorney who specializes in insurance matters to see if he thinks you have a valid claim that is worth a lawsuit. Provide the lawyer with all relevant documents and a copy of your insurance policy. Tell your attorney about any settlements offered by your insurance company and the attorney will judge whether you have a legitimate case that might result in a much larger settlement if brought to trial. Attorneys work on an hourly basis or on a contingency basis in which case they receive a portion of whatever settlement you ultimately receive. Get your lawyer’s fee structure in writing before you pursue your case, and make sure you are kept current on the status of the case as it progresses. You must agree to any settlement reached between your attorney and the insurance company before it is made final.