So it finally happened to you. Your team was repairing a commercial roof, and during construction one of the roof drains was accidentally covered over. Water damaged the ceiling, walls, and wood flooring of the building. A slippery wet front entrance and potential risk for electrical fire led the business to close down for a few days for cleaning, repairs, and restoration. Your client was not thrilled. You know you have contractor's insurance coverage, but you've never filed a claim before. Where do you start?
#1: Stay Calm
First, don't panic. A claim incident can bring up a lot of emotions. You may be fearful that the incident will cost you. Or anxious that it will take too long to get the issue settled. And you may be more than a bit angry at a certain employee (who will remain nameless) who was responsible for blocking that drain in the first place.
We know what you're feeling, because we talk to people like you every day who have been in your shoes: clients who are filing their first claim. And we want you to know -- it's going to be ok. We are going to get this resolved together quickly, so you can focus on the next job at hand-gathering your information.
#2: Gather Information
The reason it's important to keep a cool head in a claim situation is this: you'll want to gather as much information as possible in order to move the process along quickly and smoothly.
Be sure that you have the following:
- Where did the incident occur? Do you know the street address, city, and zip code?
- What time did it happen?
- What is the full name of the person or business who was affected?
- What exactly happened? Do you have a clear and detailed account of the incident?
- Do you have your insurance information ready? Your certificate of insurance will contain your policy number and type of coverage, in case you were wondering.
#3. Contact Your Insurance Provider Immediately
Reach out to us right away. It doesn't matter what time of day, if it's raining, snowing, or if we're in the middle of a 4th of July BBQ, because you can file a claim online 24/7 and get the process started right away.
Once you've reported your claim, here's what's happening behind the scenes:
- Your insurance provider (that's us) reviews your information and sends it to the appropriate claims department.
- A claims adjuster is assigned to you.
- Because each case is unique, your claim experience can vary. In general, expect your adjuster to contact you and discuss your coverage, inspect the damage, estimate the damages, and settle your claim.
#4. Keep Records of All Communications
There's a really good chance that a third-party injury or property damage is the reason you've got a claim to report to us in the first place. Be sure to keep records of any conversations or interactions you have, including emails, text messages, or phone calls with the injured party.
#5: Ask Us Questions!
You're going to have questions that pertain to your specific claim scenario that we couldn't possibly begin to answer here. So pick up the phone and contact us! We can help ease your anxieties and give you some peace-of-mind. Here are some common questions we help clarify:
- What's covered under your policy?
- What is your deductible amount?
- What are your policy limits?
- What are your options if you're facing a lawsuit?
- How long will this take to get resolved?
- Will your rates increase after this claim? (Here's a quick answer: Not necessarily. There's many factors that determine your insurance rates, and a single incident may not trigger an increase.)
#6: Put a Risk Management Plan in Place
There's no time machine that can take you back to prevent a claim that just happened. But whenever you are faced with a claim scenario, it does give you a golden opportunity to learn from a mistake or unseen circumstance, and to adjust your risk management plan.
If you are already implementing risk management practices:
Did you already account for this type of claims scenario, or were you blindsided by it? Now that you know how something of this nature could occur again in the future, it's time to add it to your plan and put some practices in place to prevent future instances.
Did you already have preventative measures for this incident? It may be time to read just safety training or implement new practices on the work site.
If you don't have risk management practices in place:
Risk management doesn't have to be complicated. It is the practice of identifying risks that your business could face, and mapping out a plan to prevent them from occurring.
Our #1 Piece of Advice: Act Now
If there's one thing we want you to know about the claims process, it's this: report it now. The sooner you let us know that an incident has occurred, the better. Advance notice will allow plenty of time to investigate the claim.
After all, the sooner you can resolve your claim, the better.
Accidents and incidents happen. That's why you have insurance coverage. And when the time comes for you to file a claim, that insurance coverage is the safety net which can shield you from the high-cost of a lawsuit, injury, or settlement. Rest assured, we are here to help you through this situation, and we're going to be sure that you can put this behind you quickly and easily, so you can get back to work with as few hassles as possible.
Guest blog by Citizens General.