Immediate Considerations for Handling an Insurable Loss
The lawyers and staff of Cohen & Grigsby hope you and your families are safe and that dealing with the storm’s aftermath is easier than anticipated. As we all begin the process of resuming business operations in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma, it is important to remember that insurance can play a vital role in helping businesses and individuals recover financially from the storm. With the goal of preserving and maximizing valuable insurance coverage, including for business interruption and income loss, we offer the following ten immediate considerations for handling an insurable loss:
- Notify your insurance agent, broker or carrier of the loss as soon as practicable, and obtain a copy of any insurance policies that might cover Irma-related losses—property insurance is an obvious place to look for coverage, but keep in mind that other types of policies and coverages, such as flood and service disruption, may respond to the loss.
- Review your policies for obligations, such as timely notice, proof of loss, documentation and cooperation obligations that you have as an insured. It is very important not to place coverage in potential jeopardy by failing to comply with policy conditions, such as failing to provide timely notice or missing the relatively short time frame for submitting a proof of loss. Notice and proof of loss deadlines are particularly important in flood insurance claims.
- Continue to take reasonable steps to protect covered property after a loss and work to resume operations safely—don’t wait for the insurer to act.
- Establish a team and assign responsibilities for handling and accounting for your claim.
- Preserve evidence of the loss and carefully document the loss, including by maintaining complete and accurate records concerning all elements of loss, such as lost sales and revenues, and extra expenses that have been incurred—this is critical to valuing the insured loss and maximizing overall insurance recovery.
- You may decide to utilize the services of public adjusters, who are independent adjusters who may offer assistance in documenting a loss for a percentage of the recovery. Please remember that: (1) communications with public adjusters (and other third parties, including all contractors and insurance company representatives) might not be privileged; and (2) Once you sign up with a public adjuster, the adjuster will have a lien on the claim. Public adjusters can play a role in certain claims, particularly where insurance coverage issues are not present, but the decision to use a public adjuster generally should be made in consultation with legal counsel.
- Though you may be entitled to insurance coverage, act as though you are spending your own money.
- Document your notice to the insurer, any requests you make to the insurer, and the insurer’s responses in writing.
- Ask the insurer to explain the basis for its coverage position and claim decisions in writing.
- Do not concede lack of coverage or a recovery of less than what you reasonably believe you are entitled to receive. Insurance can be complicated and insurance companies do not always get it right. By following the right protocols, you and your team can be well positioned to push back against a coverage denial, or other coverage-limiting positions, and maximize insurance recovery.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about Cohen & Grigsby’s qualifications and experience.