5 tips for reporting an insurance claim

Added April 22, 2021

When you have to file an insurance claim, you want the process to be as smooth and fast as possible. As a business owner, you play a large role in helping make that happen. The steps you take before and after a loss can go a long way in determining how your claims process unfolds.

Claims can be few and far between for your business, so it may not be a familiar practice for you. To help you, here are five tips for reporting a business insurance claim.

Know what's covered

In general, you should know what is—and isn’t—covered under the business insurance coverages you have in place. This is a good practice to not only help guide you when considering whether to file a claim, but also in identifying potential gaps in your coverage.

Review your policy regularly to get a broad understanding of your coverages. Insurance language, like the terminology and phrasing in any contract, can be dense and complicated.

“We understand it's not always clear if a claim is covered or not covered,” said Dawn Marlow, a claims manager at Hortica®. “If you have any doubt, report the claim, and a claims representative will be happy to review for coverage.”

Another good reason to review and understand the terms of your policy is that some insurance contracts require you to report a claim within a specified amount of time following a loss.

Contact the proper authorities

For employee incidents involving injuries, have the employee seek medical attention as soon as possible. For customer incidents involving minor injuries, provide first aid treatment and ask if they need an ambulance or further medical attention. For all serious injuries, call 911 immediately.

If you're involved in an auto accident, move to a safe location and contact the police. If there are injuries, call 911.

In cases of property damage such as vandalism or malicious mischief, contact the authorities and file a report. In some cases, insurance companies won't pay for losses you incur due to events such as theft or vandalism if there's no police report available.

Gather information and take photos

One of the biggest complaints about the claims process is how long it takes. You can save time by having the right information on hand from the start. Be sure to have this key information available when filing your insurance claim:

  • Account name and policy number

  • Name and address of the person reporting

  • Date and time of the loss

  • Location

  • What happened

  • Who's involved in the loss

  • Police report, if filed

Details matter. Be forthcoming and provide as much in-depth information as you can. Make sure the information you collect is accurate. Having to go back to correct missing or false information takes time and can stall the claims process.

Photos often provide crucial information in a claim. Sometimes you need to make quick repairs to mitigate further damage, and safety concerns may dictate actions that disturb the scene. It's usually impractical to delay all action until a claim can be processed, however, it's important to take photos or videos to document your loss before making any repairs or cleaning up.

Photos or video can also help you identify any missing or damaged property you previously overlooked.

When taking photos:

  • Capture the loss from different angles

  • Get close-ups of damaged areas

  • Take multiple shots—more than you think you need—and use different light settings

  • Show the surrounding area with wide shots

Contact your insurance company promptly

Your initial report to your insurance company to begin the claims process is known as the first notice of loss (FNOL). This step is very important, as it sets the claims process in motion.

According to Tom Richey, claims manager for Hortica, if you call in your claim, you can often receive a claim number and begin the claims process by the time the call ends. If you submit your claim online or via email, it can take up to 48 hours for the process to begin.

Representatives will walk you through the claims process and gather details of the loss. In this step, be prepared to share much of the information you gathered after the incident.

Once the FNOL is in place, it's assigned to a claims adjuster who gathers further information and ultimately determines the amount of the insurance claim settlement.

Remember, some insurance companies require you to notify them of a loss within a required amount of time. Act early.

Document and follow up

Don't rely solely on the insurance company to keep track of all of the details surrounding your claim.

Complete a company incident report. If this isn't already part of your loss control program, add it. Be sure to:

  • Document all of the details from the incident

  • Track the claims process

  • Compare your report with what the insurance company provides you

  • Contact your insurance provider with any discrepancies

Your insurance company should provide you with updates on your claim. If not, reach out for details.

Our claims professionals are trained to guide you through the process. You can help by keeping good records, having an information backup, documenting your claim in writing, and taking pictures.

All these efforts can help speed up the resolution of your insurance claim so you can focus on running your business.

Related links:

How would you like an extra layer of protection for your business? Here’s why umbrella insurance matters and how it can help your company.

You can help reduce the number of claims at your business with good housekeeping practices. Follow these effective cleaning tips.

Many businesses are incorporating more technology to serve their customers. Unfortunately, this opens them up to additional risks. Follow these tips to help combat cyberattacks.

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