Making an insurance claim can be stressful – but it doesn’t need to be. In the aftermath of a disastrous event, we understand how important it is to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.
Follow these simple tips to help make potential claims a stress-free and time-saving process.
There are a few things you can do upfront to be prepared and make the whole claims process a bit easier, whilst also helping you ensure you have the right cover for your business…
Understand the Nitty Gritty
If you find the thought of sitting down to read your insurance policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (aka PDS) cover to cover daunting, don’t worry, you’re not alone! At times it can feel like you are reading another language, but it doesn’t need to be complicated.
If you are unsure what your policy covers you for, jump on the phone to your insurance agency. Having a chat to a real-life consultant will help to explain all the important things about your cover that you need to know, without the jargon. Understanding what you are covered for and assessing your policy frequently is something which everyone should do regularly to ensure come claim time – you have the right cover.
Some important things to check are:
- What events does your policy cover you for?
- What are the exclusions?
- How much is your excess?
- How much are you covered for?
- Are there any sub-limits?
- Do any waiting periods apply?
If you are not covered for the events that may impact your business, talk to you provider about extending your cover or including additional policies.
Keep Things Ordered
In the event of a claim, particularly on physical property such as stock, machinery or other equipment, you may need to provide proof of ownership. Keep your receipts in a central place, so that these can be accessed when required. It’s a good idea to have a backup of these stored electronically in case you need to access the originals. And where possible, record of the serial numbers for important items.
If you require emergency repairs (e.g. plumbers, electricians) before you lodge your claim, make sure you keep a copy of these receipts too.
Measure the Impact
Something that small business owners often forget, is how much of an impact a claim could have on their business financially if an incident like a fire or storm was to destroy your business premises. You are not only going to need enough money to rebuild your business, but chances are you are going to be out of business for some time while repairs take place, and this may also hit you where it hurts most – the hip pocket.
One thing that you will really want to ensure, is that you have enough cover to rebuild your business back to where it was. If you are underinsured, your insurer may not pay out your full claim, which could leave you shorthanded. Say for instance, your stock and contents are valued at $100k and you only have them insured for $50k. A fire sweeps through a storeroom destroying stock valued at $40k. Your insurer may only pay you out $20k – as you were underinsured by 50%. This could have a huge impact on your business getting back on its feet.
Also ensure you can cover other financial impacts an event may have on your business like:
- Your Turnover – while your business doors are closed, your stream of income could be limited or even non-existent. Would you be able to function as a business financially and pay wages, rent and other expenses?
- Relocation – if your premises needs to be repaired, could you afford to relocate and pay rent and the running cost of your business at another location?
This is where Business Interruption insurance comes in handy, providing that peace of mind when you need it most. You can find out more about Business Interruption insurance here.
When Disaster Strikes
Call for Help
When you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing to make a claim, you should contact your insurance agency to report the incident as soon as reasonably possible. You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed during this time, so to make things a bit easier, write down the key facts about the incident. This will help to make the information you provide more accurate and easier to explain to your insurer.
Things to jot down whilst the details are fresh in your mind:
- The time and date the incident occurred
- Where the incident happened
- What actually happened, the more details the better
- Details of any people or assets that were affected
- Anything you may have done to try and minimise the loss
- If there were any witnesses, ask for their account of the details of the event
It is also a good idea to take photos of the damage where you can.
The Dreaded Paperwork
The claims process will inevitably require some forms to be completed which will involve recording facts and details about the incident and a police statement if required. However, if you follow the step above you will already have a good account of the details that are required.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to keep copies of documentation, receipts etc to help speed up the claims process, by providing these documents quickly, you can minimise the chance of delays from the insurer.
Open for business
Once your claim has been approved and its back to business as usual, take the time to review your policy. Going through a claims experience will give you a great insight into what you are covered for, the limits of your policy, excesses and waiting periods. Take the time to reflect and ensure that your policy is covering you for the right things and that you have enough cover in place should another incident occur.
Important Tips to Remember
Being prepared is key to a stress-free claims experience! Remember these key take-aways to ensure any claims you may have run as calm and smoothly as possible.
- Read your PDS: we have said it before, but it is important to understand the key things that you are covered for, what your excess is, your limits and any waiting periods that apply
- Pay on time: ensure your policy is paid up to date. If your policy is not paid there is a chance it may be cancelled, and you may not be covered!
- Check the details: make sure all the details on your policy are accurate and up to date, especially your contact details and business address. If you have coverage for contents it is a good time to make sure you have enough coverage and that you have included new and valuable items on your policy which you may have purchased since initially taking out your policy.
- Store your contacts close: a burst water pipe doesn’t only happen during business hours! If something was to happen, keeping emergency contacts in a handy place for easy access can help reduce the impact of the event from causing further damage. Some of the contacts you may want to consider keeping close by include:
- Utility providers
- IT services
- Keep a record: taking photos of your contents and their receipts will assist when it comes to claim time. If you can, store these images on a secured cloud-based program which can be accessed off-site.
- Up-to-date financials: keeping an up-to-date account of your business’ financial records is essential. If you need to make a claim for loss of trade through your Business Interruption cover, you will need to provide accurate financial records demonstrating how much your business is turning over.
If you want to know more about your policy or have any questions, contact your insurance provider today.