Is there an impact on your business continuity or property damage as a result of the storm? Companies up and down the East Coast are assessing damages as a result of Hurricane Irene, and the actions you take now can have lasting implications. Experience shows these are key steps to take when facing storm damage:
- Immediately report the loss to agent/broker or insurer as may be required by the policy.
- Take steps to mitigate further damage. Under the terms of most policies, immediate repairs to keep the business operational and safe can (and should) be made without the insurer’s approval.
- Get damage estimates as quickly as possible, preferably from more than one source.
- Digital cameras are the best way to document the damage. A picture is worth a thousand words when submitting a claim.
- Read your insurance policy carefully. Remember that the insurer will have a tendency to treat the contract language quite literally. Try to formulate the claim in categories the insurer will find natural and plausible given the language of the contract.
- Before incurring an extra expense, although generally not a policy requirement, ask the adjuster for pre-approval. Examples of extra expenses include the purchase of a generator to continue to operate because of a power interruption, machinery rental to replace damaged machinery, rental of temporary office space during repairs, wage expenses (e.g., overtime), express freight charges for inventory replacement, or increased advertising expenses to attract customers that may have been lost during downtime.
- If your claim will involve loss of income or business interruption, consider using a forensic accountant to help calculate and prepare the claim. Policies with business interruption coverage often include coverage for professional fees incurred in preparing claims.
- Request partial payments.