Here are some guidelines of what to do or not do to avoid prolonged or contentious claims processing.
- Have and maintain an insurance file – Keep all insurance information together in one file or place. The policy document should be within easy reach to review the coverage.
- Every January, update lists of electronic equipment and valuables – Record or photograph make, model and serial numbers and obtain appraisals or secure recent invoices for jewelry and fine arts
- Ensure your sum insured is adequate – In most cases (except cars) your sum insured should reflect the cost of rebuilding or replacement with a new item. If the basis of cover is indemnity then the insured value should reflect the market value, i.e. the price for which the item could be sold in the existing state prior to the loss.
If you have a loss:
- Notify your broker or agent or insurer of a loss as soon as possible – Immediately contact your insurance advisor to inform them of the incident to begin the claim process.
- Always act as if you’re not insured – Take normal prudent measures to safeguard the damaged item or site to avoid further damage as well as to secure for survey by a loss adjuster.
- Comply with the policy timeframes – Follow the deadlines for reporting losses and submitting your claim, repairing or replacing the damage or request an extension.
- Co-operate with your Broker– Your broker is experienced in claims processing. Listen to their advice.
- Obtain supporting documents – Eg. Estimates, independent expert reports, bills, detailed descriptions of damaged items, etc. form part of and support your claim to the insurer.
- Follow up your broker– If they are not keeping you advised on how your claim is progressing don’t hesitate to keep on top of them.
- Start repairs without insurer’s or adjuster’s approval – Proceeding with repairs prior to the Insurer’s approval could prejudice your claim settlement.
- Discard damaged items – The insurer or adjuster needs to survey the damage to verify and quantify your loss. If it is necessary to immediately discard items for health reasons, ask your Broker to arrange an immediate survey or obtain approval for swift disposal.
- Wait to obtain all information to submit complete claim – This delays the processing of the claim. Submit documents as soon as you have the necessary information.
- Assume the claim would automatically be adjusted downward – Sometimes claimants exaggerate their losses to compensate for anticipated adjustments during settlement. The insurer is legally obligated to settle your claim to the extent of the cover purchased. Your insurance policy also carries a condition to void the contract if a fraudulent claim is made against the insurer.
- Meet with loss adjuster/insurer without your broker’s approval and /or presence – Sometimes an innocent statement could be misinterpreted by the adjuster or insurer and have a negative impact on the situation.
- Assume your friends/colleagues claims experience would be yours – Everyone is an expert on insurance matters and your friends are always willing to offer advice on how to treat with the situation. Their experiences and policies are not necessarily the same as yours and following their advice rather than your brokers’ could work to your disadvantage.
- Impart important information to insurers/adjusters verbally – Communicate all information in writing or email to avoid misinterpretation.
- Accept claims settlement without agreeing it with your broker – Brokers are more familiar with the intricacies of their clients policies and can more easily spot errors.
- Sign ANY documents without fully reading and understanding them –Discuss all documents to sign with your broker to understand the consequences of signing.