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How to Handle an Insurance Claim

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. — Ever wonder what it would be like to sell something that no one wants to use? Insurance is something that the customer hopes (and usually believes) they will never use. Unfortunately, disasters happen, and that’s when we need our insurance most.

The hours following a disaster can be stressful and heartbreaking, but your insurance company is there to help you get through it quickly and with as little loss of business as possible.

What should you do if you have to file an insurance claim? The procedure is similar no matter what type of claim: property, bailee, sign, auto, etc. But in a catastrophic situation, dry cleaners aren’t like every other business. Most businesses, at time of loss, are not dealing with customers’ claims in addition to their own needs.

Here are some tips to working through your insurance claim:

Document the Damage — Take photos of the damaged property immediately, even if it’s with your cell phone. The key in dealing with any insurance claim is documentation. Document everything from the very start.

Protect the Property from Further Damage When Necessary — Make temporary repairs, or arrange for a qualified professional to do so, and save receipts for all services and supplies needed. This is important to avoid further damage to property and/or people, and is generally a condition of your insurance—that you do what you can to minimize the loss.

For example, if a storefront window is broken and can’t be repaired or replaced immediately, you must secure it (board it up, tape it and/or cover it). This is done for security reasons, to avoid water or other damage from occurring inside your business, and to clean up any broken glass so it doesn’t injure passersby.

Hold On to Damaged Property — Do not dispose of any damaged property (equipment or otherwise) until an insurance adjuster has reviewed it or the insurance company advises you to do so. If a garment is damaged in processing, you should retain it in case it is needed to support the claim (to be analyzed to determine if the manufacturer was at fault, for example).

Report Your Claim as Soon as Possible — Most insurance policies have a time requirement when reporting your claim, so be sure to do so as soon as possible. Have your policy number available whenever possible to make the process simpler.

Document and Support Your Claim — Be sure to document and support your claim with proof, details and estimates. When given instructions by your insurance carrier, be sure you understand and follow them.

Keep a Detailed Record Throughout the Process — Save every bit of information you receive, including documenting interactions with representatives involved with your claim. Be sure to note the date and time of each contact. Make notes of claim numbers, adjusters, claims managers, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. If possible, make requests in writing. It’s always a good idea to have hard copies of your requests, information, etc.

Be Honest and Don’t Try to Pad or Increase Your Claim — Insurance fraud is a serious legal situation, and adjusters have seen it all. Insurance companies are serious about prosecution in such instances.

Whatever your situation, your main concern is getting back to business as quickly as possible in a condition equal to what you were operating under prior to the loss.