Gas stations and convenience stores can be lucrative for owners, but profits can quickly disappear if stores are not properly protected from weather damage. If owners and insurers do not do their due diligence after a hailstorm, the entire structure—or the entire business—may be lost. Attorney Bill Voss explores the unique risks faced by gas station and convenience store owners, as well as how to get the coverage you need to protect against hail damage losses.
Vital Hail Coverage for Gas Stations and Convenience Stores
Gas stations rarely fit into a one-size-fits-all property damage policy. These businesses carry all the risks of restaurants, grocery stores, and retail operations, as well as the added complications of fuel pumps and charging stations. A severe hail storm can cause the closure of one or more pumps, break windows, or damage awnings built to protect cars while fueling.
Owners should carefully assess their coverage options each year to make sure all aspects of the business are covered, including:
- Structural damage. Many features of convenience stores and gas stations are built using aluminum or other lightweight materials, which may be dented, torn off, or pulled down in a hail storm. These structures also must be repaired quickly to prevent further losses.
- Electrical equipment. Water entry can permanently damage a convenience store’s point of sale systems and computers, and gas stations may suffer theft due to loss of surveillance or alarm systems after a power outage.
- Inventory losses. An electrical interruption after a hail storm can cost thousands of dollars in spoiled inventory as temperatures in refrigerated cases rise. In addition, everything from roof insulation to floor coverings may be ruined if rainwater enters the structure.
- Cleanup and sanitation. Due to the health risks and hazardous materials involved, it can be a significant cost for an owner to clean up the property before repairs can be made.
- Code upgrades. Gas stations must be built within certain parameters to reduce the risks of fire while fueling. If there have been advances in building technology since your structure was built, law and ordinance coverage can cover the costs of these upgrades, so they can be included in your repairs.
- Business interruption. Owners can lose months of revenue in the time spent waiting for payment and proceeding with repairs. Business income replacement can bridge the gap between damage and reopening, saving the business from a bad year.
The Importance of a Proper Inspection in a Hail Damage Claim
After your business has suffered hail damage, your commercial insurance company will want to assess the damage before issuing you a check. Unfortunately, insurers may use these inspections as grounds to deny or underpay claims, so it is vital for owners to ensure that the inspection is:
- Thorough. Insurers have specific rules they must follow under Texas law to act in good faith with their customers, and one of these is the duty to perform a thorough investigation of each loss. In a hail claim, this may mean climbing onto the roof to examine damage to the shingles, vents, and flashing, inspecting attic spaces and roof interior, and visiting all areas of the covered property to check for damage.
- On time. Once you have reported the damage, an inspection should be performed as soon as possible. Not only can a late inspection delay your claim, it can cause roof leaks or flooding that leads to further losses.
- Professional. Insurers have a duty to hire properly-trained and professional inspectors to serve their clients. An inspector who ignores obvious damages, fails to consider the consequences of all types of loss, or cannot accurately estimate damage costs is not acting in good faith.
If your insurer is refusing to provide the hail coverage you paid for, we can examine your policy and take action against the insurance carrier that has operated in bad faith. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact an insurance attorney at the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.