shutterstock_260023499Now that Winter Storm Jonas is done dropping over some 24” of snow in our area, affected business and home owners have moved on to the next phase: trying to figure out if insurance will cover their ice and snow damage.

In the chaos that follows a natural disaster, mistakes can be made that either delay insurance reimbursement or mean your insurance won’t pay at all. Especially for business owners, this means that long delays can hurt operations when trying to get the doors back open for business. You can’t prevent a disaster, but you can control how you handle one.

Here are the top five mistakes clients make when filing insurance claims:

  1. Not contacting Allegheny Insurance immediately. Allegheny Insurance provides a 24/7 hotline for making claims outside of regular business hours. Many people make the mistake of cleaning up the damage before we have the adjuster visit. This creates confusion about how bad things really were, and you may find that either the labor you did or paid for prior to this visit can’t be covered.
  2. Making permanent repairs. Take the reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage and be sure to save the receipts. Remember that payments for temporary repairs are part of the total settlement. Don’t make extensive, more permanent repairs until our claims adjuster has assessed the damage.
  3. Not documenting the damage. Often, repairs must begin immediately to prevent additional damage, or equipment must be moved to a new location. If so, be sure to photograph the original scene to document how it was before you started your cleanup effort. Also take photos of any repairs you make.
  4. Not keeping damaged goods. If your cleanup includes removal of items such as water-damaged items, flooring or insulation, keep it all, even if it has to pile up in the yard or parking lot. The damaged materials are all evidence. However, photos will suffice if exposure to spoiling is a risk, such as food or perishable items.
  5. Not taking account of witnesses. Depending on the type of claim, look for witnesses. Find as many as you can, and make sure to get their statements and contact information. Witness statements can be invaluable, especially when they’re given by people totally unconnected to the incident.

It’s your responsibility to prepare for the worst, but to know exactly what to do should disaster strike. By avoiding these common mistakes when filing an insurance claim, you can avoid delays and get back to normal in no time. Learn more about Claims Reporting at Allegheny Insurance.