Proper Documentation Speeds Casualty Claims

A troubled CEO arrived early at the office that crisp November day. Overnight, a fire had damaged a detached garage that served as the stockroom for her growing mail order gourmet spices business. Fortunately, no one had been hurt in the blaze that destroyed most of one wall. Also fortunately, the management team had already begun gathering the documentation required to file an insurance claim. And, here’s how they did everything just right!  

Policies – The company’s insurance policies had been stored together in one place, with care taken to gather all coverage documents. Many business owners have multiple policies in force in addition to property insurance, such as business interruption insurance. 

Proof of inventory: Because the company was growing quickly, the management team had recently updated inventory records. Its comprehensive documentation included date-stamped video surveys, receipts for new packaging equipment located in the garage and bills of lading for stored goods.

Damage documentation: When the CEO arrived, her proactive vice president was already documenting the damage with video and photographs.

Receipts for immediate mitigation: Rain was forecast for the afternoon, so the company’s COO had called a local contractor to protect the garage’s exposed contents; most insurance policies will not pay for subsequent damage if owners don’t take reasonable steps to prevent further loss. When immediate mitigation had been completed, the COO would save the receipts for the adjuster.

Incident or police reports: Because the fire’s origin was suspect, the CFO had called the local police to file a report – a copy of which the adjuster would also need. 

Proof of loss: After surveying the damage, the CEO began preparing a proof of loss statement supported by documentation. Many carriers give 60 days to file proof of loss; failing to meet this deadline can result in denied claims.

Claims process documentation: The CEO’s administrative assistant opened a file to begin recording every step of the claims process: notes about conversations and actions taken that include time, date, name, affiliation and contact information. The first items in the file? Notes about the initial calls to insurance companies to inform them of the loss.

“The better your documentation,” says Patrick Matthew, Vice President Quality Assurance & Catastrophe for Paul Davis, “the faster and easier the claims process goes. That’s crucially important to getting your business back to normal after a disaster.”

Need help recovering from a fire at your commercial property or business? Paul Davis, which excels at coordinating with insurance carriers, promises to be on site within four hours of a call for help.