Businesses provide services and products that aid in our day to day living. They support health, nutrition, provide shelter, a place to connect spiritually and socially in addition to providing access to products that make our daily lives easier. When a loss occurs to a business, it impacts the owner, customer and/or client. Businesses obtain commercial property insurance as there is an immediate need to restore service and functionality and mitigate the financial risk to the business.
Commercial property insurance is a tool used to protect businesses and/or organizations from unforeseen loss with the intent to keep operations running and minimize business downtime. Protection to physical property and assets such as structures, technology, equipment and materials are integral to the operation of a business. When a loss occurs from various perils, such as fire, explosions, water damage, natural disasters, civil unrest, vandalism and theft, managing a commercial property insurance claim is integral to business continuity.
Commercial Property Insurance policies are tailored to the type of business and associated risk factors. The level and scope of coverage will depend on the insurance plan acquired. Ensuring that you understand the coverage scope of your insurance policy is key to prepare for the unexpected. This will include the type of damage, incidents and costs that are covered.
Typically included in a commercial property insurance coverage:
- Commercial Building: This covers specifically the business structure. Examples of these structures are manufacturing and office buildings, healthcare facilities, schools, buildings used for religious organizations, stores, warehouses and home office. In addition, fixtures in the building that are permanent such as air conditioning unit, related duct work, electrical panels and fixed equipment are typically included in the coverage.
- Other Building and Structures: These are typically associated to the main structure under the policy coverage. Outdoor property not attached to the building, such as garages and sheds, fences, signs or warehouse supplementing the main building are examples of these structures and typically outlined accordingly in the policy.
- Personal Property and Physical Assets: These items are the assets that support the business operation and are found included in the covered building such as tools, machinery, inventory or materials, valuable papers and documentation, technology (computers, TVs, satellite dishes, etc.), art work, office equipment, furniture and non-tangible items such as trademarks and copyrights.
Based on the size and type of business or organization, additional coverages may be supplemented or bundled into your policy such as:
- Business Interruption coverage – also known as Business income coverage. This coverage provides funds while the business operations are suspended based on covered peril. This aids in replacing lost income and pays extra expenses, including payroll. This coverage may also include temporary locations to reside in during the recovery process, where needed. Alternate endorsement for this coverage may include Ordinary Payroll Coverage: payroll expenses for employees, but may exclude key employees such as officers, executives, managers, contract employees or employees specified under coverage.
- Glass coverage: This policy is intended to cover damages to glass owned by the business.
- Food Spoilage: Food being integral for the business scope, this coverage is typically acquired by restaurants and grocery stores to cover losses due to food spoilage.
- Electronic Data Processing: The coverage will address data loss due to virus or power surges to a computer system which may impact the operation of the business.
- Flood Insurance: Flood peril is not typically covered by most commercial property policies; however if a business deems this to be a risk due to location, they may choose to obtain this as a separate policy.
Due to its time sensitivity and nature of complexity in the policy scope, hiring a Public Adjuster allows the insured to focus on the business while the adjuster manages the claiming process. A Public Adjuster represents the insured and works the entire claim from beginning to end of the process. Contacting the adjuster when damages are incurred ensures that the documentation and processing of the claim occurs efficiently, timely and as per the insurance process requirements.
A Pubic Adjuster is an expert in the type of documentation needed to process the claim and manages the process to obtain the best outcome for the insured.
They will review and document the damage to prepare a proof of loss as a baseline for additional work.
They will understand your commercial policy and breakdown of coverage to determine whether the loss is covered by the policy. They will be the insured’s liaison to the insurance company.
They will guide the insured in which items should be repaired, which items should be replaced and what should be done with the damaged property.
They will investigate to determine causation and total extent of loss to support the coverage amount.
They will document the loss in great detail and work with licensed experts and trades to provide a valuation of the loss with current pricing.
They understand the amount the insurer should pay the insured and negotiate with the insurer to maximize the recovery the insured is owed.
They represent the insured in all steps of the process so that the insured can manage the business and get back to operation as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to prepare if a loss occurs to our business?
Document, catalogue and inventory all assets, take pictures when appropriate and have an understanding of current market value of the assets in order to facilitate the claim process. Knowledge of asset worth and impact to the business will provide a better understanding of the needed coverage and will aid in the recovery of monies for replacement costs.
At what point do I call a public adjuster?
As soon as the loss occurs, contact your adjuster so that you can be guided in the immediate activities with regards to repairs, documentation for evidence and communication to your insurance company. There are many activities that require the business owners attention when a loss occurs. The Public Adjuster can handle the insurance side of activities so that the business owner can manage operations and mitigate income loss.
What is the benefit of contacting a Public Adjuster as opposed to contacting the insurance company?
The Public Adjuster works on the insured’s behalf throughout the entire process. They will communicate with the insurer, manage the documentation, coordinate and schedule the inspections and generate the needed documentation to provide the best outcome for the insured supporting the replacement costs related to product and services.
How long does the insurance claim process take?
After a loss occurs, an initial inspection and scope of loss is prepared on the property to generate an estimate. Additional inspections may be required by various trades to support causal factor determination. Depending on the scope, this may take approximately 3 weeks for simpler cases with no follow up inspections; longer if the property loss is larger in scope requiring multi-trade inspections.
Once the documentation from the inspection and estimate is completed it is subsequently filed with the insurance company, at which point the insurance company has 90 days to review the documentation. After this period, the insurance can decide to pay the estimated amount, negotiate the estimated amount or deny the claim. The added amount of time for negotiation will depend on the information required to reach consensus. If the claim is denied or the proposed money is not acceptable to the insured, the claim can proceed to litigation at which point law professionals will be sourced to support in this phase. The documentation required for litigation is key for a favorable outcome. The public adjuster supports with all the required documentation throughout the litigation process. The timing for conclusion of litigation is dependent on various factors and can vary for up to 1 year or more.