Like most inclement weather, high winds can cause severe damage to both the structures and internal workings of a business. However, insurance companies make their money by accepting full payment on your premiums and minimizing the amount they pay out for damages.
Companies may try to deny wind damage claims by attesting that the damage existed previously or that another factor within the policyholder’s control caused the damage instead. Even if business owners are able to successfully refute these claims, insurance companies use these excuses as a bargaining chip, forcing policyholders to accept a far lower payment rather than nothing at all.
Tips for Getting Adequate Payment After High Winds Damage Your Business
If your commercial property has been damaged by excessive wind, you can protect your claim and your business by completing the following steps:
- Gather your policies. Most business owners have multiple insurance policies. Go over each one to determine who should pay for the damage, as well as the limits involved in each policy. If you don’t understand a portion of your policy, it is up to your insurer to explain it to you.
- Create an inventory. It is up to you to prove the extent of your losses to the insurance company, so the more detailed your records are, the better. Make a list of all damaged possessions and property (including brand names and model numbers if possible) and take pictures or a video recording of each one. You can estimate the cost of each damaged item, but providing a receipt or other proof of purchase is often more effective.
- Call your insurance company. It can take a while to get the ball rolling on your claim, so call your insurer as soon as possible to start the process. Be sure to ask them what forms need to be completed, and whether they will be sending a claims adjuster to the business to survey the damage. Avoid giving dollar amounts on items that need to be replaced until you are sure of the extent of the damage.
- Go deeper. If an insurance adjuster is coming for an inspection, make sure you are ready for his arrival. If damage if superficial, a list of ruined items and estimated replacement costs may be sufficient. However, if there are extensive losses, you should inspect the building for structural damage and other problems that may not be immediately apparent.
What If My Insurance Company Denies My Storm Damage Claim?
If your claim is denied, you have the right to file a request for another inspection. You can also hire a licensed public adjuster or a contractor to be present for the second inspection for a ready second opinion on the insurance adjuster’s findings. If your insurer still refuses to pay, you should consult with an experienced policyholder attorney to find out if there is a valid basis for denying deny your claim.
Business owners rely on the integrity of their commercial properties to bring in clientele. When a building is broken, damaged, or seems to be falling apart, customer confidence may decline—and that is just the effect of superficial damage. To learn how to calculate the full amount of losses to your business due to wind damage, read through a copy of our free book, Commercial Insurance Claims: The Basics.