No matter their strength, hurricanes can cause massive damage once they make landfall. If you are a commercial property owner, you should start getting prepared to take the next steps immediately after a storm.
These are some easy tips to follow that will make it much easier to obtain a recovery settlement once the hurricane passes and you move to file your insurance claim.
Compile a damaged property list
In the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, you need to document any property damages that your business has suffered. Take an inventory on a pad of paper or your smartphone of everything that has been damaged by the storm.
This includes any inventory or valuables that you have on the property. In addition to writing out a list, it is a great idea to also take corresponding photos or videos. These visuals will assist during the claims process and help it move along smoothly.
Review your insurance policy
As a commercial property owner, you need to be up-to-date on what type of coverage you have and exactly what type of damages you can recoup.
Only specific types of damage are covered by many policies. Damage from falling debris might be easy to make a claim for, whereas things like flood damage are often more difficult without additional coverage. Standard commercial policies account for hurricane damage related to strong winds and rain.
Check your policy deductible. When it comes to hurricanes, many insurers will use a percentage-based system that you can get details on by reading your policy’s declaration page.
Clean up can be a drag on your claim
It is a natural inclination for us to want to return to normalcy after a hurricane and start the cleanup process immediately. However, this may not be the best strategy when filing a commercial insurance claim. Any permanent repairs you make or damages materials you throw away could have a major impact on how much you can recover during the claims process. An insurance adjuster needs to come out and see the property as-is so they can make a proper assessment.
If you have to fix something to prevent further damage, document the damage in detail with photos and video prior to making the temporary repair. A great example of this is covering broken windows or roof sections to stem any additional water damage.
Filing your claim
Especially after a major storm, your claim is going to be reviewed in the order that it was received. It is important to file your claim with your insurance company as soon as possible after a storm to get it evaluated as quickly as possible. Many property owners bring on our law firm from the moment they notice damage to ensure that the claim is filed completely and correctly. We provide this service at no additional cost to our clients.
If you decide to go it alone, keep in mind that each insurer has their own protocols, so you should contact them to know more about how they want you to proceed. Make sure you always document who you speak to and be as thorough with them as possible. Share with them that you have itemized all your damages and let them know if you are going to be suffering any business income losses as a result of the storm. They will then send an adjuster out and, hopefully, you will be on your way to receiving a payout for repairs.