One of the many lessons property owners learned after Hurricane Harvey is that natural disasters can cause catastrophic damage and total losses. While many property owners have insurance coverage for things like fires and leaky pipes, natural disaster claims are a little different than other types of commercial property damage insurance claims. Commercial property owners need to fully understand natural disaster claims to best protect their properties and financial interests.
Know Your Coverage
Many commercial property owners aren’t completely sure what is and isn’t covered under their policy. Does your policy cover total loss replacement? What is the deductible? Are there any policy limits? Do you have business interruption insurance? Understanding exactly how your property and your business are protected can mean the difference between getting an insurance payout to cover damages and paying completely out of pocket.
Immediately Report Damage
After a large-scale natural disaster like Harvey, tens of thousands of property owners will be filing natural disaster claims; therefore, it is important to report your claim immediately. Insurance carriers usually handle claims on a first come, first served basis, so you want to be at the front of line.
Claims Can Take Time
Commercial insurance claims can be complex, and natural disaster claims can make the processes take even more time. However, policyholders have a legal right to have their claim handled in a timely manner. If your insurance company is taking too long to process your claim, you need to contact an experienced commercial insurance lawyer to make sure your insurance company is operating in good faith.
Know What Your Property Is Worth
Commercial buildings can have specialty equipment or tools that many adjusters are unfamiliar with. This can lead to underestimates of replacement costs. Rebuilding after a natural disaster can be expensive, so if your insurance company has given you a lowball offer, do not accept the offer and contact an attorney.
Be Wary Of Surplus Lines Insurers
Surplus lines insurers largely dominate the commercial insurance market in Texas. These companies aren’t traditional insurance companies, and often operate more like file cabinets or foreign investment syndicates. When policyholders file claims with surplus lines insurers, there is no one to process the claim, so surplus lines insurers contract out with external adjusters to handle the claim. The surplus lines insurers incentivize these adjusters to deny or undervalue claims, so many policyholders end up paying out of pocket for most, if not all, of the repairs. To avoid making insurance payments, many surplus lines insurers routinely characterize storm damage as “wear and tear” or maintenance problems.
Don’t Wait To Contact An Attorney
Natural disasters can cost insurance companies billions of dollars in payouts. Some insurance companies will do everything in their power to avoid paying out on expensive claims. Policyholders shouldn’t have to deal with unfair insurance companies, but the reality is that many do. Getting an attorney involved in your claim can make sure claims are handled efficiently and help you get full coverage.