Filing An Insurance Claim
Everything seemed pretty simple when you purchased that insurance policy. If you have a loss, just tell the insurance company about it and you will get paid - Right? Well.... it may not be quite that easy. There are some basic steps you should follow to make sure your insurance claim is paid quickly and fully.
Prepare - in advance. The single most important thing that will make your life easier in the event of a loss is to be well prepared in advance. Do you have offsite copies of your computer files? What about paper files? If this is some kind of property loss, you will need to document the value. If you have to try to reconstruct records that were destroyed, it will delay your insurance payment and make it much harder for you to prove the value of your loss.
Estimate your loss. While it may not be possible to know the full extent of the loss, develop an estimate. If it is close to or below your deductible, you are probably better off not filing the insurance claim. Your rates will be based in part on your claims history so there is no advantage to you in filing a claim you will end up paying for out of your own pocket. Be careful, however, as most insurance policies require you to report a loss within a certain timeframe, usually 2 - 4 weeks.
Call your agent. Many insurance companies ask that you report your claim directly to the claims department. This is more efficient for them but not necessarily better for you. Your insurance agent may represent the company but his income depends on keeping his customers happy. Independent agents, in particular, are small business owners and owe their primary loyalty to their business. If you're a small business owner, your insurance agent understands that his business depends on keeping his customers happy.
Keep in touch with the adjuster. Ultimately the insurance company will assign an adjuster to work with you to estimate and pay the loss. Work closely with the adjuster and respond quickly and completely to his requests for information. The easier you make his job, the quicker you will get paid.
Consider an independent adjuster. If your loss is large and complex, it may pay you to hire an independent adjuster to work on your behalf. If you do decide to take this step, make sure you hire an adjuster who has experience with your type of business loss.
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