Even the lowest-intensity hurricanes can leave widespread damage across Florida. When the clean-up process begins, commercial businesses throughout the state also start to assess their damages, looking to restore their operations to normal as soon as possible.
Time is money, so every day that is relinquished to being shuttered after a storm leads to lost profit and growing ramifications on the bottom line. These consequences are only compounded by the sometimes difficult process commercial property owners must undertake when filing a claim with their insurance providers.
What Commercial Building Owners Must Understand About Insurance Claims
The process of recovering damages from a commercial insurance claim after a hurricane or natural disaster can be more difficult than you would think. Some might naturally assume that insurance companies are there to protect and provide support for their policyholders. Many assume that as soon as they report legitimate damage to their insurer, their insurer will quickly acknowledge the loss, accept that the damage is covered, and will issue a check for the entire amount they need to recover from the loss.
Insurance companies, however, are simply operating a business and are naturally more focused on their bottom lines than overextending their interests to meet the needs of customers. On its face, the process behind recovering damages is difficult enough, but there are some additional challenges to look out for from insurers.
Insurance Companies Mean Business
The more catastrophic the loss, the greater chance your insurance provider is going to try to minimize what they pay out to policyholders. Insurance companies will proportionally devote more time and resources to protecting their interests the greater the losses become to businesses.
One example of this effect played out in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath with high-rise buildings on South Beach in Miami. Several of these buildings had a curtain wall of windows.
Insurers paid for some obvious damage like blown out glass panels that needed to be replaced. Some less clear, but more costly problems that dealt with the structural integrity of these buildings was either missed, or even worse, intentionally overlooked.
When these serious structural damages were realized, the insurance companies fought hard in order not to pay out on the claims. They were able to be more successful in this regard because highly-specialized and expensive engineers are often needed to prove structural damage.
Confusing Coverage From Insurance Providers
In an effort to provide optimal protection, commercial property owners often have several types of coverage. These policies are usually complicated, which necessitates the aid of attorneys, accountants and other experts who have specific expertise working with insurance contracts, including these specific policy types:
Business Interruption Losses: This commercial building insurance provides protection when income is lost due to a slow down or complete closure of a business from a natural disaster. The insured must hand over a detailed account of how much income is lost. The level of accuracy needed often makes this something impossible to do yourself, which is why we have experienced lawyers and accountants who make sure you stay on the right track to maximize the amount you get from a claim.
Content Losses: Not only do policies provide coverage for physical damage, they also allow holders to recover content losses related to large storms, floods, fires and other incidents. There is, however, very narrow allowances when claiming content losses. Our team collaborates with you to build a thorough and accurate inventory that will prove your losses.
Cash Value Policies: There are commercial property policies that will merely cover the actual cash value of loss, not the cost of repair or replacement. The cash value is tabulated by subtracting depreciation from the cost of replacement, so the policyholder really only ends up with a fraction of the repair cost. Of all factors in these policies, depreciation might be the most complex and insurance adjusters regularly build on large amounts based on the building’s age without factoring in how the property has been kept up. Our group makes sure that depreciation is fairly assessed, taking into account all range of factors.
Windstorm and Flood Damage: Several hurricanes carry with them a great deal of wind and flood damage. If you have both types of coverage, a common tactic insurance companies use is to play one policy off the other. That strategy can create delays and a whole host of problems during the claims process.
Understand Our Process
We are at the ready to help you take action and recover damages if you are a commercial property owner or manager. Our expert team will come assess all levels of damage at your property as quickly as possible. In addition, we will collaborate with you to prepare all financial documents and other proof you need to process your claim with the insurer.
The important thing to remember is that commercial policies are designed to put the burden of proof on the insured, meaning you will have to jump through hoops to get the payments you are entitled to. Any contractual misstep could cost you your ability to collect on your claim or at least reduce your opportunity to receive a full recovery for damages.