Steps for Businesses to Take to Facilitate a Hurricane/Storm-Related Commercial Insurance Policy Claim [Part II]

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

Businesses can be brought to a standstill because of damage to the facility, communications systems, data systems, equipment, and/or inventory in the wake of a hurricane.  The efficiency of commercial insurance carriers in adjusting claims and facilitating repairs can have a significant impact on the bottom line of your business.  If you are promptly and fully compensated for your losses, your business can mitigate any impact on profits or recoup any such loss depending on your coverage.  Prompt handling of your claim also can prevent a diminished share of the market.  This is Part II of our two-part blog post, which provides suggestions for business owners to maximize their recovery and minimize the delay and hassle associated with a hurricane-related commercial insurance claim. Click here to read Part I.

Create a Disaster Contingency Plan: High level management and senior staff should coordinate a plan for responding to a hurricane or similar emergency.  This plan should account for contingencies that will facilitate returning the business to operational status promptly, as well as factors that will necessitate a long-term cessation of operations.  These plans will include notifying key clients and restoring the computer network to functioning status.  An individual also must be designated to be in charge of day-to-day management of the insurance claim.  While an emergency plan can be crafted amidst the chaos and confusion of a major disaster like a hurricane, the process is much more efficient when performed in the calm and stable environment prior to a hurricane.

Prearrange Communications Protocols: Effective communication is essential for a company to recover following a disaster.  Major disruption of communications can be anticipated following a major catastrophe.  This disruption can last for a protracted period, so plans should be established to ensure communications with employees, management, suppliers, and clients.

Coordinate Pre-Hurricane Inspections: If a business owner also owns the manufacturing facility, office building, or other commercial property, a pre-storm inspection by a licensed contractor or inspector is important to preempt insurance company claims that any damage was pre-existing.  An inspection of the structure can mitigate attempts by the insurer to use this strategy to deny the claim or reduce the recovery received.  If you reach general contractual terms with contractors prior to the hurricane, you can expect your repairs to be performed promptly.

Safely Store Documents to Quantify a Business Interruption Claim: Income and expense documentation will be critical to establish a claim for business interruption losses, which includes lost profits.  Documents that you should put aside in a secure location include tax returns for the business during your last four years along with six months of profit and loss statements.  Hard copies of these documents should be kept off-sight in a location where they can be retrieved in the wake of the hurricane because computer access might not be accessible.

Establish a Plan to Deal with Lack of Access to Electricity and Water: While there are many ways that a business can be crippled by a disaster, lack of access to water, electricity and other utility services can be a problem that originates off-sight.  A business cannot simply hire a contractor to perform repairs to overcome this problem.  Proper planning might involve obtaining flashlights, portable generators, radios, equipment that operates without power, alternative fuel sources, and lanterns.

 If you are involved in a dispute with your business insurance carrier, experienced insurance claims attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo can help you avoid these types of legal traps and pitfalls.  Miami casualty and liability commercial claims lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo welcomes the opportunity to answer your questions and explain your rights.  Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles disputed business insurance claims in Miami and throughout Florida.  The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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