Property Primer: The Claims Process

The claims process can be an overwhelming and difficult time for an organization, depending on the extent of damage from a loss. Understanding the insurance claims process and our interest in helping guide our insureds through that process can eliminate unnecessary confusion. It’s important to understand an outline of the process, and understand that as an insurance company we’re interested in helping guide insureds through the process to make it as easy as possible (which is admittedly difficult).

Insurance claim formThe first step in the claim is reporting it. While some details are important, including a valid contact name and the best phone number to reach the individual is critical. The contact email address is important to have, but the insured contact and phone number help the most. The insured should do what they can to mitigate any additional damage to the property, and retain paperwork or receipts for costs of materials if needed to mitigate additional loss. Pictures can be helpful, but are not required. The independent appraiser we retain will take photos as part of their report; however, some insured financial institutions like to have some photo documentation.

Next, the insured will need to work with a contractor to effect repairs and/or remediation. If there’s a preference in the use of a specific firm, having that firm available to meet with the independent adjustor is helpful in the first meeting. If there is not an established contracting firm, then working to identify one should be a process undertaken in advance of the initial walk-through. The adjustor and contractor will need to agree upon a cost for the repairs. Having that discussion early on helps make the remainder of the work easier; identifying a contractor helps speed the process of the claim.

Finally, the work will be authorized and the contractor will need to keep us informed of progress, as well as any additional costs unforeseen at the outset of the claim review. Changes are often a part of the claims process, as well as final agreement on cost. This is normal, and something all parties are accustomed to finalizing. It’s important to remember that the valuation purchased will have an impact on final claim settlement, and that insurance restores the organization to the place they were before the loss – insurance does not make improvements (there are some provisions for this, but generally speaking a shingled roof will be replaced with a shingled roof).

While our goal is to keep the claims process as easy and simple as possible, the varying elements and people involved in working through a property loss from first notice to final payment can be daunting. Insureds should keep in mind that if the contractor relays information, it is not an official position from the insurance company, nor does the company control the contractor that was hired. If we’ve issued a check, it’s okay to deposit it even if the claim is not settled. A deposited check does not stop a claim from developing, nor does depositing a check prevent subsequent payments on the same claim.

Finally, if there are concerns with how a claim is developing, contacting the adjustor directly is the best course of action for resolution. Open communication between the company and the insurance company can quickly eliminate confusion and facilitate resolution.

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