A couple sits at a wooden table across from a third person who faces away from the viewer. The couple is a man and a woman, both with short dark hair and glasses. The man is seated on the left, wearing a gray-and-white-striped button-up shirt. The woman is seated on the right and wearing a mustard yellow blouse. Both the man and the woman have their hands folded on top of the table, and they're looking with serious expressions at the man across from them. This man is wearing a dark suit and appears to be talking to the couple. Behind the couple is a kitchen unit with cooking utensils hanging from hooks on the wall and a chrome stove vent hanging above the countertop.
Once you file a claim, you will be assigned an insurance adjuster, who will work with you to collect documentation and proof of the incident. — Getty Images/mixetto

Accidents can happen, and if one does, you hopefully have a business insurance policy in place to help you recover. There are many different types of business insurance, including general liability, professional liability, workers' compensation, and commercial property insurance. Fortunately, the process for filing an insurance claim is relatively similar no matter what type of policy you have.

Understand the filing process

Before you get started, make sure you know how your insurance company wishes to receive your claim. Is it by app, on an online portal, over the phone, or in person? Knowing how the process works makes it faster and easier for you to deliver the information and get a result expeditiously.

[Read more: The ABCs of Small Business Health Insurance Acronyms: From ACA to SHOP]

Gather the evidence

Take photos, videos, and witness statements that can support your claim. The basic information an insurer will request includes:

  • Contact information for you and anyone else involved.
  • Your policy information.
  • The type of loss.
  • The date of the incident.
  • A description of loss, damage, or injury.

The description of the loss or damage should be as detailed as possible. List the inventory or equipment damaged, any repair costs, and the lost hours of work time that you incurred as a result of the event.

Write down the contact information for any witnesses who may be called upon later to verify your claim. In addition, you may need to file a police report. “If you’re filing a claim related to a car accident or theft, or a crime that occured on your business’s property, call the local police to file a police report. Many insurance companies require a police report in the case of a crime or multi-vehicle accident,” wrote FreshBooks.

Try to contact your adjuster within 72 hours of the claim to keep things moving.

Contact your insurer as soon as possible

Promptly contact your insurance provider to get the investigation underway. Quickly reporting your claim has a few advantages. First, it keeps you and your team safe.

“Immediate action is necessary, especially in cases of building-related damage. In these instances, your insurer will need you to take the proper steps to protect your property from further damage, even while the claim is being filed and/or processed,” wrote Business.com.

Your insurance partner will give you directions about whether or not to make repairs, when to make them, and how to record any recovery steps you take for future verification.

In addition, reporting a claim after too much time has passed makes it difficult for the insurance company to discern if any additional damages have been incurred in the meantime. This uncertainty can cause the insurance company to delay honoring your claim until they have completed their own investigation or asked for a third-party evaluation.

Reporting your claim as soon as possible expedites compensation, too.

Work with your insurance adjuster

Once you file your claim, the insurance company will assign you an adjuster — someone who is responsible for evaluating the damage and determining what is covered. This is the person to whom you will send your extensive documentation about the incident.

“The adjuster will require a proof of loss form from you as well as access to any supporting evidence, such as photos or videos,” wrote FreshBooks.

Try to contact your adjuster within 72 hours of the claim to keep things moving. Stay in touch with this person throughout the process with any questions or updates as you go.

Consider consulting other professionals

Depending on the type of claim, you could explore working with a legal expert or professional contractor. A legal expert can be useful if your claim is large and complex; this person will look through your documentation and provide advice on what to send. A general contractor or mechanic can estimate the repair costs, which also supports your claim. If you do work with a repair person, get at least two quotes from different contractors.

[Read more: 6 Types of Insurance for Small Businesses]

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