With frequent wildfires in both northern and southern California, insurance companies are under intense pressure to save money and reduce the size of their reimbursements. If your business has been damaged by a wildfire, be prepared and understand what your commercial property policy covers and how to make a commercial fire loss claim.
A typical commercial property insurance policy will cover the building, its contents, and property immediately outside of it, including:
- Computer equipment
- Furniture and business machines
- Exterior signage
- Fencing and landscaping
- Critical documents
- Business inventory
- Adjacent property
Commercial Property Loss Claims Can Be Complex
Business losses are themselves fairly complex. Plus, due to the fact that business insurance policies are customized to specific business needs, it adds to the complexity. A business policy may include provisions, terms, and conditions that are hard to understand. Even so, the insured business has obligations under the insurance policy that must be met on time so that the claim isn’t jeopardized. Because of this, California business owners who’ve been damaged by the wildfires must have a complete understanding of their business insurance policies. This includes all the terms and provisions. It’s essential to the success of the business loss claim and to the quick and efficient recovery of their losses.
While you may be denied access to your property due to a wildfire or other disaster, if you’re adequately insured, you can recover from these events and keep your company going.
After you’ve responded to any immediate onsite emergency, go through the following steps to file your commercial fire loss claim to get your business back on track as soon as possible.
Steps to Filing a Claim
- Contact your Insurance Company – Your insurance company will provide assistance with responding to your loss and filing your claim. If the damage to your business is extensive, your insurance company may send a claims adjuster to inspect the property. Also review your policy for any specific steps you need to take when a loss occurs.
- Prepare an Inventory – To prove your business losses, draft an inventory of damaged or destroyed items. Send a copy to your insurance company’s claims adjuster and include copies of any receipts to document the losses.
- Proof of Loss Statement – The insurance company will ask you to sign a sworn proof of loss form that has the information requested to investigate the claim. This must be done within 60 days after the initial insurance company request. The company will then send a claims adjuster. Be prepared to have her inspect the property and examine your company’s books and records.
- Document all damage – Identify the damage to your building and other structures. Create a list of everything you want to show the adjuster, and provide photos or video of the damage, if necessary.
- Temporary repairs – Protect your property from further damage if the area is safe to access. If immediate repairs to equipment are necessary, keep all damaged parts in the event that the claims adjuster wants to examine them. Keep your receipts for what you spend to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Note that all payments for temporary repairs are part of the total settlement.
- Estimates – Get several competitive bids for repairs or replacements to provide options and keep costs down.
Remember to keep copies of all documentation you send to your insurance company and any paperwork your insurance company gives you. Keep a record of the names and phone numbers of every person you work with during the commercial fire loss claim filing process.
What if the Insurance Settlement is Too Low?
If you think that the amount of the settlement isn’t right, take these steps to try to get an adjustment:
- Talk to your claims adjuster to explain your reasoning
- Escalate your claim to the claims manager and provide a written explanation of your issue, attaching supporting documentation
- Contact an experienced commercial fire loss lawyer at Thompson Law Office with insurance questions to be sure you receive the payout reimbursement to which you’re entitled.
It’s important to have a seasoned legal professional working with you on your business or commercial insurance issues. Feel free to contact Thompson Law Office today for a no-cost free consultation to discuss how we can help you get the maximum compensation and payout for your business or commercial fire loss claim.