The COVID-19 Pandemic has the entire world on edge, and rightfully so. Businesses are searching for ways to operate or just stay afloat in this changing and uncertain environment. At the heart of these businesses are people. Not just your employees, but also people like you, who run those businesses. All people, even business leaders, can get distracted. They have families they worry about, kids home from school, and the same fears of contracting COVID-19 as everyone else.
Virtually every business in the United States has been impacted in some way by this pandemic. While there are numerous priorities for business owners and leaders to juggle, both personally and professionally, I would urge all businesses with an existing property insurance claim, or that suffer a traditional (meaning a non-COVID-19 loss such as a fire, water, or wind damage loss) property damage loss in the coming weeks or months, to make their insurance claim a high priority.
Businesses may not have control over certain aspects of their business based on government action or other impacts of the pandemic. But for the financial health of your business, you must take control over your property insurance claims. Here are some key reasons:
Cash flow: Your business needs cash flow. The way insurance claims are settled is with money. Even before the claim is completely resolved there are ways to obtain advances against your claim from the insurance company. These advances will provide much needed cash flow to your business.
Critical claim deadlines: All insurance policies have deadlines for various claim actions. These are typically set forth in the “duties after a loss” section of the policy. Failure to comply with some of these duties may result in losing your rights to collect some, or all, of the insurance money owed to you as a result of the loss. Your business cannot afford to lose this money – you are entitled to it, but you must act timely to protect your rights to it.
Options: The insurance company is required to indemnify you with cash. How you spend that money, for the most part, is your business decision. If you know what options are available to you under the policy as well as the impact on your claim if you spend the money in different ways, you will be strategically positioned to make the best decisions for your business. These decisions may include using the insurance proceeds for things other than repairing the damage, if that is what is best for your business at this time.
Maximize your claim: get what you paid for: Insurance is a contract; you pay the insurance company a premium and they promise to completely indemnify you for all losses covered under the policy. It is your job to prepare, document, and present your claim to the insurance company. This is your money and you should demand every penny you are entitled to, nothing more, but certainly nothing less. In normal times it is not a good idea to rely solely on your insurance company adjuster to determine what you are owed. These are not normal times. Insurance companies are getting inundated with new claims related to COVID-19 while dealing with the same pandemic-related issues impacting all other businesses. Now more than ever it is important that business owners submit complete and thorough claims, otherwise they will likely leave much needed money on the table when the claim is settled.
Next steps: Property insurance claims are complex. They require specific skills and expertise in a variety of disciplines. Business leaders should consider professional assistance when dealing with substantial property insurance claims. Professional public insurance adjusters assist business leaders in the property insurance claims process. Public adjusters are claim professional licensed by the state. Experienced public adjusters will carry the burden of the claim process while using their knowledge and expertise to maximize your recovery. By having a professional represent you with your claim it will free up your time to address other critical matters, both personally and professionally, while allowing you piece of mind knowing that everything is being done to comply with all policy provisions and to achieve the maximum settlement your business is entitled to as a result of your loss.
Ethan A. Gross, a lawyer, is CEO of Globe Midwest Adjusters International in Southfield, which exclusively represents property and business owners during the insurance claim process to ensure a fair and just settlement. He is the current president of the Michigan Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.