Did you know that flood insurance and earthquake insurance are not included in any standard policies, not even with comprehensive coverage? You need to purchase those separately. You may not need those policies depending on where your business is located, or perhaps you have several business locations. Other natural disasters, including fire and hurricanes, may or may not be covered depending on the specific situation and the details of your policy. Odds are that one location or another will need to have one of those policies in place.
Natural disaster insurance policies may need to be purchased separately.
Read the fine print and ask your insurance agent specific questions so you are absolutely clear on what your policy covers - and what it doesn't
Notify your insurer as soon as possible after the disaster and keep the contact information handy. Fully document the damage for your insurer by taking photos or video. Digital versions are best because they can be stored electronically and easily copied/ transmitted. Advise your insurance rep that you intend to start repairing and rebuilding as soon as possible and determine whether or not to wait for an adjuster to inspect the property. Document the damage and conversations at every stage of the process.
Responsibility for specific items. Some damages are typically covered by natural disaster insurance, and your insurance company should pay for them. Your insurer should pay for:
Furthermore, if your insurance company denies your claim, you can sue them for the amount that should have been paid on the claim, as well as your attorney fees and court costs.
Settling your claim. First of all, all settlement offers can be negotiated, so if the first written assessment of the damage is below what you submitted for damage, do not cash the check. This is another tactic used by many insurance companies because most people need the money and are eager to start repairs, and having a check in hand is very tempting. Be in it for the long haul and make sure you are getting everything you need. Review the full report and agree with all items and costs before accepting payment.
Adjusters need to account for regional differences for labor and material costs. If they don't, you can make a case for a higher amount. Look for the following red flags:
If you see a problem, return the first check and ask the adjuster revise the report; then request a check from the insurance company for the correct cost of the damage. You can talk to an insurance company's approved contractor to estimate your property damage, but remember that you do not need to use them.
>Keep your documents, inventory of loss, conversation notes, receipts for related purchases, photos and anything else relevant to your claim in a safe place - the more specific, the better. You can also escalate any problems to your state insurance commissioner.
Actual cash value policies pay the amount needed to replace the item minus depreciation. If your washing machine is damaged, the replacement cost policy means the insurance company pays to replace the old machine with a new one. An actual cash value policy means the company pays only a part of the cost of a new washing machine because a machine that has been used for eight years is worth less than its original cost.
If you need to rebuild property, understand current building compliance codes. In areas likely to be hit by hurricanes, for example, buildings must be able to withstand high winds and if you are rebuilding, it will need to be built to current codes.
The use of public adjusters. Your insurance company provides an adjuster at no charge. There are also independent auditors that are not connected with any insurance company but they charge a fee and often a percentage of the settlement. If you go with an independent auditor, check their references, the Better Business Bureau, your state insurance department, and the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters.
For more information, check with the agencies listed below.