In an analysis of its small business claims, insurance provider The Hartford projected that four out of 10 small businesses in American are likely to file a property or general liability claim in the next decade. They’ll run the gamut from the commonest, theft and burglary, to the most costly, libel, slander, violation of privacy and other claims involving reputation harm. Hopefully, you’ll be among the 60% who skate, but if you’re not so lucky, here are some tips to make filing a claim for your small business go smoothly to a satisfactory resolution.
Be Religious in Your Recordkeeping
Document everything — inventory, assets, transactions, contracts, receipts. Take digital photos of assets and tag them with pertinent info about date of purchase and cost. Now make duplicates of all your docs and keep them in a safe deposit box, online digital vault or some other kind of secure, off-site location.
There are four basic types of small business claims you’re likely to make: property, business income, liability, workers comp and auto. Each type of policy will have specific obligations you have to meet in the event of claim, but all of them will have one thing in common: contact your agent promptly. The sooner you get the claim process going, the sooner it can be resolved.
Unless you’re trying to pull a fast one (never a good idea) your insurance agent wants you to be satisfied with the settlement of your claim. It accrues to their customer satisfaction ratings. Don’t fight them or cop an attitude. They’re on your side. Work with them.
Stay on Top of Your Claims Status and Your Legal Rights
These things take time, but they shouldn’t take an eternity. Check in periodically to learn the status of your claim. Most states have standards for fair claims settlement practices, which you can usually find on your state insurance commission’s website.
Speak Up If You’re Unhappy
Start with the agent, claims manager or adjuster. If you’re still not happy, call your provider’s complaint department. If you’re still not happy, contact your state’s insurance commission. And be sure you keep notes about who you talked with, the time and date, and the content of the conversation. If all else fails, hire an attorney who specializes in insurance to see if you have legal standing to sue.
Learn more about insurance available for small businesses and shop for competitive quotes for a variety of small business policies here.