How Long Does a Commercial Insurance Claim Take in Florida?

Commercial insurance is designed to provide protection for your business from all manner of incidents and natural disasters. Everyone buys insurance with the hope that they will never actually need it, but when you do, it’s important to have someone to help guide you through the claims process. 

One of the most common questions businesses have about the claims process is how long it all takes to get settled so that they can get back to business as usual. 

Of course, each claim is unique and will have its own circumstances that determine how long the process takes. There are also insurance laws to consider, and any policies the insurance company has in place regarding the processing and payment of claims. 

Getting a claim acknowledged is fairly easy. Getting a claim paid is a whole different battle entirely. It’s a battle insurance companies fight day in and day out, and if this is your first time, it can seem daunting, to say the least. Fortunately, you’re not alone. 

When Should I File a Commercial Insurance Claim?

Although the specifics of each situation will vary, businesses often find themselves filing claims with their insurance provider for things like:

  • Theft and Burglary
  • Property Damage
  • Product Liability Claims
  • Business Interruption
  • Water, Wind, or Hail Damage
  • Structure or Equipment Fires
  • Injury and Personal Liability 
  • Cyber Liability and Data Breaches

When one of these covered losses occurs, you should contact your insurance company right away to report the incident and start the claims process. Then, the insurer will begin their investigation and determine whether the claim is covered and the amount of compensation that is owed. 

Remember, of course, that the insurance company is always looking out for itself first and foremost. Insurance settlement reps are trained to make the lowest possible offer and do their best to keep people from trying to negotiate a higher settlement. It helps if you have an idea of what your claim should be worth and someone on your side to help you fight for what your business rightfully deserves. 

Commercial Insurance Claims: The Filing Process 

In order to get a better perspective of the time involved in settling a commercial insurance claim, it helps to understand the process. The exact steps and time involved may vary slightly from one claim to the next, but here’s what you need to do if you are facing a commercial insurance claim. 

In the event of theft, burglary, fire, or another potential crime, the first thing you should do is contact the authorities. If it’s an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, you can call the non-emergency police line to report the incident and have an officer come out to take a statement. Make sure that you find out when the police report will be available so you can provide it to the insurance company to help with your claim approval. 

Step One: Contact the Insurance Company 

After contacting the authorities, or if you don’t need to do so, you’ll want to call your insurance company and report the incident right away. Provide as many details as you can about what happened and what kind of damage, injuries, or liabilities are present so that they can give the adjuster a head start on investigating the claim. This is a good time to ask them what the next steps are and when you should expect the adjuster to come to survey the damage and make the claim report. 

If the incident causes an interruption to your business operation, ask about that coverage, as well. They may be able to begin accumulating and paying business interruption costs throughout the claims process so that you can work on getting things back in order sooner than later. However, you may have to wait until the claim settles to get this type of payout, depending on your policy. 

Step Two: Review Your Coverage 

Although some people will tell you that you should do this before calling the insurance company, it’s always best to get the claims process rolling as soon as possible. It’s unlikely that you don’t have coverage for most standard claims, so long as you were prudent in acquiring business insurance. Therefore, you can typically get the basics started with the insurer and then review your policy to make sure:

  • You have adequate coverage
  • The incident is not specifically excluded
  • There are no other limitations or exclusions to consider
  • Which type(s) of claim should be filed

Understanding your coverage can also help you later in the claims process if the insurance company tries to lowball you or balk at paying any part of your claim. 

Step Three: File the Claims Paperwork 

Insurance claims require supporting documentation, which can include:

  • Photos and videos of damages or losses
  • Receipts
  • Repair or replacement estimates
  • Police reports
  • Fire reports
  • Emergency repair receipts 
  • Any other relevant information or evidence

You should make a copy of everything for your business files and provide a copy to the insurance company. That way, you have documentation and in the event that they misplace it or say it never arrived, you have a way to copy it again. 

Step Four: Negotiate the Settlement 

Once you’ve submitted all of the necessary documentation and the adjuster has completed the investigation, you will be given a settlement offer for your commercial insurance claim. Remember that this is just an offer and that you can negotiate for a higher amount if you deem it necessary. 

This is another place in the commercial claims process where it could benefit you to have someone on your side. A lawyer might be too costly (and probably a bit unnecessary) for your claim, but that’s not your only option. You can work with a public insurance adjuster in Florida to make sure that you get the best outcome in your commercial insurance claim. 

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Commercial Insurance Claim in Florida?

Florida state law provides information on insurance contracts, including Chapter 627.70131, the Insurer’s Duty to Acknowledge Communications Regarding Claims. This will help you get an idea of what to expect in terms of a timeline for your commercial insurance claims. 

According to the statute:

  • Insurers must acknowledge receipt of claims within 14 days unless the claim is simple and can be paid within that time frame. 
  • Within 14 days of receiving proof-of-loss statements, the insurance company must begin its investigation. 
  • Any necessary adjuster inspections must be completed within 45 days of receiving the proof-of-loss statements. 
  • Insurers must provide a copy of the estimate from the adjuster within seven days of the assignment to the claim, and advise policyholders that they can request this estimate. 
  • Insurers must pay or deny a portion of the claim or the entire claim within 90 days of the initial claim filing. Any payments made after this period will accrue interest. 

Granted, there will be situations where these timelines may be unattainable, and the state also allows for that with flexibility in its laws. Some commercial incidents or accidents could take months or years to recover from, which could drag out the claims process longer because of the need for ongoing payments and other insurance company involvement. 

For example, a small structure fire may take only a couple of months to settle, with payments made directly to the contractors for repairs completed during the claims process. On the other hand, a full rebuild of your commercial office building after hurricane damage could take up to six months or longer, and settling the claim could be more complex and time-consuming, as well. 

The best thing that you can do is to have someone on your side, such as a public insurance adjuster, who can ensure that things are done in a timely fashion so that you can get back to business. 

Business Income and Extra Expense Claims in Florida

If you carry coverage for loss of use of your business, you’ll also want to have coverage that can take care of your business’s lost income and operating expenses. In the event that your business is forced to relocate or close temporarily, filling a separate claim for business income is going to be helpful. You will want to make sure that you have detailed records of all ongoing business activity, including financial transactions, as well as operating expenses, temporary location costs, and ongoing expenses that need to be paid even if the business is temporarily closed (advertising, utilities, etc.). 

This includes payroll, allowing you to continue paying your employees even if they are out of work until the business is back open. If you find that you don’t have this coverage or that you don’t have much of it, you may want to consider upgrading it for future protection. 

Consult with a Public Adjuster to Expedite Your Claim in Florida

Commercial insurance claims are usually a lot more complex than claims with consumer insurance products, which means that they take a lot more time and understanding. You should also utilize the resources available to ensure that your claim gets processed efficiently and that you are compensated fairly for whatever damages and losses were incurred. 

Of course, you’ve got your plate full trying to recover from whatever incident caused the claim in the first place; the last thing you want to do is argue with the insurance company. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

The Bottom Line

On Target Claims can step in on your behalf to ensure that your commercial insurance claim is paid fairly and in full, in a timely fashion. Our team of experienced agents knows how to fight for what you deserve, saving you time, stress, and settlement losses. To learn more or discuss your claim, contact us today at 954-329-0771.

Related Content: Filing a Water Damage Insurance Claim in Florida

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