Fil­ing in­sur­ance claims

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA - By Joyce M. Rosenberg

When dis­as­ters like hur­ri­canes strike small busi­nesses, many own­ers must quickly learn how to file in­sur­ance claims. It can be a lengthy process, de­pend­ing on the amount of dam­age, but it's eas­ier for own­ers who are well-or­ga­nized be­fore dis­as­ter strikes.

In­sur­ers want to see proof of the dam­age. Although an ad­juster will visit, own­ers must pro­vide a de­tailed list and pho­tos or video of what was dam­aged. They'll also need in­voices and other busi­ness records that prove the value of the equipment or prop­erty.

If a com­pany can't op­er­ate and an owner files a claim for lost in­come un­der a busi­ness in­ter­rup­tion pol­icy, the in­surer will want to see fi­nan­cial records. Ac­cord­ing to the In­sur­ance In­for­ma­tion In­sti­tute, an in­dus­try group, com­pa­nies must pro­vide doc­u­ments show­ing rev­enue, ex­penses, profit and loss, in­ven­tory, pro­jected bud­get and any other fore­casts for a com­pany's earn­ings. Ac­coun­tants can help own­ers iden­tify the doc­u­ments they need to put to­gether, and, if the doc­u­ments aren't avail­able, how to re­con­struct the in­for­ma­tion.

Own­ers also must get bids from con­trac­tors with the es­ti­mated cost of re­pairs to a build­ing. In­sur­ers also want es­ti­mates of how much it will cost to re­pair or re­place equipment or fur­nish­ings.

A re­minder from the in­sur­ance in­sti­tute: Keep copies of all cor­re­spon­dence about your claim. If you speak with some­one on the phone, make a record of who you spoke with and when.

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