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The 8 Critical Steps You Need to Take After Catastrophic Property Damage

Do you know the steps to take after catastrophic damages to your business property? For example, water and fire damage are just two hazards that can leave disastrous results. But, what do you do after those issues? The steps you take can make a big difference in how quickly you can settle your insurance claims and execute the recovery process.

Here are 8 steps that you, and especially the owners of commercial entities, can take to make the post property claims and recovery process move smoothly.

Not a reader?  No worries…listen to our Call Your Broker Episode on this topic.

1. Establish a Line of Communication

The first 24-48 hours after the incident is critical. The insurer and the insured need to maintain communication. The best way to accomplish this is through effective communication. So, you need to appoint the main point of contact for both sides of the process.

There will be a variety of people involved in the recovery process. Therefore, you need to use the means at hand – for example emails – to get the communication lines open and working. Some of the things that you need to get set in this time include:

  • communicating with insurance adjusters
  • talking with your insurance broker
  • setting work schedules to rebuild
  • making decisions about the relocation of impacted facilities, etc.

It’s recommended that you have a set plan for lines of communication as part of your Disaster Recovery Plan. This ensures that you and your employees have a clearly defined chain of communication and know precisely what to do and who to contact in a crisis.

2. Determine the Level of Safety Risk

While you have the lines of communication going, you need to start working on the problem. To this end, you need to identify authorized personnel allowed to enter the building or area. Get a handle on and understand the location and hazards that are present. With this information, you can make a clear decision on personal protective equipment needs for safe entry into compromised areas and other safety and security protocols.

3. Document the Cause of the Loss

As you enter and analyze the situation, start documenting the cause of the loss and don’t tamper with it. Secure evidence for insurance inspection (following clearance from official agencies, if any). You should also ensure that you keep this information as organized as possible to make the property claims process move more smoothly.

4. Get a Certified Industrial Hygienist

Depending on the type of damage, you may need a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). A CIH manages the protocol oversight and clearance parameters of damaged sites. They can determine whether it’s safe for persons to enter the damaged areas and are therefore essential for safety reasons.

5. Start Mitigation Efforts

You cannot imagine the level of damage that a little water can cause. A simple faucet in a kitchenette on an upper floor can lead to millions of damage. So, you need to ensure that you start the mitigation process as quickly as possible.

Insurance policies require that as the insured, you need to mitigate damages as best as possible. For you, this could mean having a pre-approved reputable contractor on call. Don’t rush or use inexperienced contractors as this will more than likely exacerbate the issues. You’ll spend more money if you try to cut corners or move too quickly.

6. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Where you’re dealing with loss recovery and insurable interests, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your broker. Your insurance broker is the liaison between your insurance carrier and associated parties such as persons with insurable interests like a landlord. Your broker helps to keep everyone aware of the full scope of the project and issues.

7. Maintain your Procurement and Payment Processes

It’s your responsibility as the insured member to maintain your payment procedures. This includes Department of Labor Laws, procurement laws, and inventorying and pricing loss items for adjuster review.

If you’re worried that you may pay for services that your insurer may not cover, it’s essential that you get a reputable contractor. It’s always best to have a contractor on hand before an issue where you can properly assess and vet their services. This will help to limit potential problems with your insurance company.

As part of this step, record keeping throughout payment and procurement process is important. The insurance carrier adjusters will separate the payments for emergency services, reconstruction services, damaged contents items, etc. so it makes sense that you should too.  

Keep in mind that different adjusters treat payments differently. But, there are industry standards so this shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, a good adjuster will work directly with the business owner with the oversight of the broker.

8. Obtain Reconstruction Costs

The insurance companies often prefer two separate reports – one for the emergency services, and another for the reconstruction. In producing your estimates and invoices, you should remember that the aim is to get the building back to a similar state. This does not mean carte blanche on what you get to buy. A quality disaster recovery contractor can help provide the rationale behind the recovery items and costs.

The insurance adjuster will be working on their cost projections from the outset so the sooner you are prepared, the better. The estimating can even start from day 1 as your contractor begins the emergency recovery services.

**Understand the steps to settle claims after a disaster?

These steps aren’t linear, and some of these points will overlap or run concurrently. But, once you follow these steps, you’ll be in a better position to recover quickly after a disaster.

If you have any questions about what you should do after a disaster and the post property claims protocols you should take…leave a comment or send us a message.  We would be happy to help you get the most out of your insurance claims process.  

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Find out more about Rapid Recovery Services who contributed to this article.