Just like homes and residential buildings, commercial buildings and businesses also suffer in tornados and severe storms. However, it’s not always easy to figure out what the insurance company expects from you as a commercial policyholder or how long you really have to get everything in order and submit a claim for your losses.
Although there should be a simple answer to your question, the truth is that how long you have to file a commercial tornado claim depends on a number of factors, including both the expected and the potentially surprising. To get a better idea of your timeline, first check out this general information about time limits in insurance claims. However, don’t stop there and assume you’re prepared.
Potential Problems With Time Limits for Submitting Commercial Tornado Insurance Claims
The issue with predicting how long you have to file a property damage claim is that, especially when tornado damage is widespread or severe, the question of time limits becomes more complicated for businesses because:
- You’re rarely dealing with a single, set-in-stone time limit. There may be a number of different time limits you need to meet when making a claim for tornado damage after a major storm, and they may come up at different times throughout the process. There are usually time limits laid out in your policy that cover when the policyholder must submit notification of loss, proof of loss, and other documentation. Make sure that you ask about the time limits that apply to your business, and ask for an extension if you’re unsure you can meet the appropriate deadlines.
- You may have to wait longer to get assessments and documentation. Another snag that can come up in tornado insurance claims is how long it will take you to arrange for the contractors and assessments needed to submit your claim. Often, after a major weather disaster, you will be competing with other businesses and residents who are also rushing to recover. The number of people and businesses who need help can quickly overwhelm regional adjusters, services, and systems.
- You may be submitting several insurance claims. For most businesses, it isn’t unusual to need to submit claims for several different types of damage under different policies or insurance providers, all of which may have varying time limits in place. This might include claims for structural damage to buildings, replacement costs for equipment, damage to company vehicles, business interruption losses, and more. Additionally, if flooding followed the tornado, some of the water damage you suffered is likely to be covered under your separate flood insurance policy.
- Your coverage situation is unique. Different rules, laws, and time limits may apply depending on the type of business you own, where you are located, the coverage provided by your specific policy, and other details. For example, insurance coverage for tornado losses is typically more limited in the “Tornado Alley” region of the United States. As another example, the insurance coverage rules for a large agribusiness can be very different—and more complicated—than the coverage for a small retail business.
- Government relief programs may be available. In addition to your commercial insurance coverage, you may qualify for other forms of relief in your state, city, or county. While this is good news for business owners affected by a major tornado, it also means that there is a new set of deadlines and time limits involved in applying for these programs and determining if your business qualifies for assistance.
Although the rules can be complicated and coverage can vary dramatically, remember that the rules that govern insurance claims also give you rights as a policyholder. These rules also apply to the insurance company, which has a duty to respond to you and resolve your claim in a reasonable amount of time. If you don’t understand the time limits that apply to your business, or if you feel the insurance company is drawing out the length of time it takes to resolve a claim, don’t be afraid to get legal help.
If you believe that the insurance company is treating you unfairly or acting in “bad faith” with your tornado insurance claim, call the Voss Law Firm today at 1-888-614-7730. You can also get answers to many common questions from policyholders by reading through a free copy of our book, Commercial Insurance Claims: The Basics.