No business wants to have a claim but when the unforeseen does happen it is important that the process goes as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Particularly if the claim is linked to your business and its future success.
Here we look at top tips when it comes to making a business insurance claim, what you can do to ease the process, what to do if you are not happy with the claims service that you receive and the benefits of working with an insurance broker.
Why it is vital to notify your insurer or broker of a claim as soon as possible
Our number one request, and that of all insurers is that you notify your insurance provider of a potential claim at the earliest opportunity and provide as much information as possible. This is often known as first notification of loss and is vital to get the claims process started. Delaying the notification of a claim can make the process a lot more difficult, time consuming and costly.
By notifying your insurers immediately you are enabling them to proactively manage the situation. Even if liability is not clear, by notifying your insurers immediately you are giving them the best opportunity to defend your position.
Not only this, but many insurance policies will also have conditions which set out the timeframes within which you must report a claim. Report a claim outside of these set limits and you may find that your claim is rejected for breach of your policy conditions. Not a position you want to find yourself in so you must understand your insurance policy itself.
Why is early notification of a claim particularly important for motor claims?
If you need to make a motor insurance claim in relation to your business, it is particularly important to ensure that you notify your insurer immediately after the incident.
The longer that it takes for you to report a motor related incident, the more the door is opened to opportunistic or organised fraud. Sadly, motor claims fraud is at a high level with the expectation that fraudulent claims may continue to rise post COVID-19.
Early notification of a claim has never been so important in enabling your insurer to defend the claim on your behalf or control the third-party claim. Giving your insurers the opportunity to manage the third-party claim means they can then control not only repair costs but hire charges and loss of use costs as well. This will in turn help control your motor premiums.
New regulation has also recently been introduced by the government relating to Whiplash claims. Whiplash claims have dominated the news for many years now, with claims reaching high numbers and costs and driving up the costs of motor insurance.
The Whiplash Reform Programme came into effect from the 31st May 2021and sees changes to the claims process for low value road traffic accident (RTA) related personal injury claims (whiplash claims).
These types of personal injury claims can now be made via the Official Injury Claim service – it is free for claimants to use and removes the need to go to court or have legal representation. Full details of how to make a claim in this way can be found in this ‘Guide to Making a Claim’ resource.
Important for your business to keep in mind when it comes to this new Whiplash claims process is that claims made via a ‘Claims Portal’ will be directed to the relevant insurer and they will then have 30 days in which to respond. Failure to respond within the 30 days will be taken as acceptance of liability and your insurers will have to pay the agreed amount regardless of the circumstances of the incident. This means that it’s more important than ever to report all incidents immediately (even if it is not your fault and you don’t think any injury has been sustained or damage caused).
By reporting all incidents immediately and fully completing the relevant claim form within 5 working days of the incident occurring, you are ensuring your insurers can deal with the claim proactively and wherever possible defend your position.
Tips for hassle free business insurance claims
If you need to make a claim linked to areas of your business other than motor, our business insurance claims advice includes:
- Take photos to record evidence of damage or of someone breaking and entering, and record as many details as you can.
- Make sure you go through the right channels (your insurance broker or your insurer’s claims line) and work constructively with the loss adjustor. Loss adjustors are independent claims specialists who investigate, negotiate, and agree claims on behalf of the insurer and the policyholder. The insurer usually pays for loss adjustors. Do not confuse loss adjusters with loss assessors, who can help customers with their Insurance claim, but are not paid for by the insurer.
- Try to mitigate the extent of the loss (for example by turning off stopcocks if you have a water leak).
- Check with your insurer before you appoint tradespeople or make any repairs yourself to avoid misunderstandings but, if you do have to hire someone for emergency works to prevent more damage, keep the invoices.
- Keep hold of damaged items until the insurer confirms the amounts payable and gives you permission to dispose of them. However, insurers do not want to delay the clearing up process, so if you can’t keep hold of the damaged items, take a sample cutting and photographs wherever possible.
- Ensure that you comply with any specific policy conditions relating to claims reporting: for example, you may need to report an accident in the workplace under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) to your insurer.
- Report any liability or motor claim received from a third party or their solicitors representing employees to your insurer immediately, to ensure it can comply with timescales laid down in law.
How to make a complaint if you are not happy with the claims service you receive
If you are not happy with the service you receive from an insurer on a claim, then you are entitled to make a complaint. Insurers must clearly describe their complaints procedures within their policy wordings and display them on their websites.
In the first instance it is important to raise a complaint with your insurer. They have up to eight weeks to give you their final response on the issue. If you are not satisfied with this, you can refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to adjudicate provided that your business has:
- an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million;
- a balance sheet total of less than £5 million; or
- fewer than 50 employees.
The FOS service is free of charge and their decisions are binding on insurers.
The benefits of working with an insurance broker
Insurance brokers like Anthony Jones can give advice on numerous issues including support in the event of a claim. Brokers are the agent of the client; they represent the client’s interests. Not those of the insurer. So, with your interests front and centre and with a sound knowledge of the insurance industry and how things work, brokers should be well placed to support you through a claim.
The service you receive will vary by broker however, so it is always worth checking the claims service that a broker is offering before buying. Some brokers will leave you to deal directly with insurers during the claims process whilst others, such as Anthony Jones, will take a leading role in your claim from start to finish.
At Anthony Jones we understand that making an insurance claim of any type can be an emotional and distressing time. And this is why we make claims communication a critical part of how we help our customers, managing your claim from notification through to conclusion. Some of the areas we focus on helping customers with are establishing liability, challenging decisions, and discussing quantum. And we’ll keep you updated on progress with regular communication from an email through to phone call.
If you are reviewing your business insurance at the moment, then claims service should be one of the factors that you consider when you are deciding on the policy, insurer or insurance broker that you work with. Insurance can be complicated so working with a broker such as Anthony Jones not only gives you the reassurance that you are taking out the right business insurance for your needs, but also that should you need to make a claim you will be supported by a specialist claims team who will support you the whole way. Get in touch with us today on 020 8290 9080 or email us at email@example.com.