Fires are destructive, affecting everything from structure foundations to HVAC systems, and they are often responsible for very large losses on commercial properties—even when precautions have been taken to mitigate the risk. Because fire insurance claims can represent so much value, and because the damage and recovery can be so complex, Attorney Bill Voss recommends that the policyholders for commercial properties take extra care in considering any settlement offered by the insurance company.
Business owners often miss out on the insurance coverage they pay for, and many don’t understand that the first offer from the insurance company may not actually cover the full extent of covered damage to their commercial property. Don’t make the same mistake. Before you accept a payment for your commercial fire losses, it’s worth reviewing the offer with an experienced policyholder attorney and asking yourself a few important questions.
Ask Yourself These Questions Before Accepting a Settlement for Fire Damage to Your Business
You owe it to yourself and your business to recover as fully as possible after a fire disaster on your property. Before you decide to accept a settlement from the insurance company, here are three things to consider:
- Have you taken steps to claim all the damages on your commercial property? Business insurance coverage becomes more complex with the size of the business, as well as how the property is used and the types of structures it features. In some cases, commercial insurance claims may require several different claims through different insurers for different types of damage. Even sorting through the damages from a major fire can be complex, as they may include direct damages from the blaze, heat damage and warping, smoke damage, and water damage from fighting the fire. With so many layers of coverage and loss, it’s easy to miss potential avenues for compensation, especially if you’re not intimately familiar with the nuts and bolts of your insurance coverage.
- Have you provided appropriate documentation to back up your claims? It’s easy to make mistakes in loss and estimate records that can have a negative impact on your claim. If you are missing an assessment or piece of documentation, you may be unable to collect insurance payments for a portion of the damages to your business. If you haven’t provided enough detail in preparing a record of your losses, you may be severely limiting your recovery or opening yourself to disputes over repair and replacement costs.
- Do you understand the full value of your claim? Insurance coverage and coverage needs change over time. After a fire, you may believe you know what will be covered by your insurance policy, but you might be wrong if you haven’t reviewed your coverage lately. Additionally, it’s not all that uncommon for businesses to overlook some covered losses or accept underpayments from the insurance company without a fight. Ultimately, if you don’t understand your fire insurance coverage or what your claim for property damage is actually worth, then you can’t make informed decisions about when to accept an insurance settlement for your business. An attorney experienced with commercial insurance claims can review any offer you receive and offer further guidance.
Get Help Maximizing Your Commercial Fire Insurance Claim
Your business is too important to risk on uninformed decisions. Review all settlement offers carefully with an experienced professional, and be prepared to protect your priorities if you aren’t getting the results that you deserve from the insurance company. If you believe that your claim has been denied unfairly, underpaid, or caught up in unexplainable delays, don’t hesitate to reach out for help asserting your policyholder rights and demanding that the insurance company handle your claim in good faith. Learn more about common struggles in commercial insurance claims.
To be sure that you are getting the commercial insurance coverage you’ve paid for, and that your business can fully recover from losses, request your free copy of our book, Commercial Insurance Claims: The Basics. You can also contact our office directly for immediate assistance with your questions.