Laying the right groundwork for responding to losses and making claims is a key part of your risk management strategy – your preparedness will mean fewer surprises and the least possible disruption to operations when incidents occur.
These five claims management best practices are aimed at helping your business achieve the most advantageous loss outcomes:
1. Have a plan for Pre-loss Insurance Consulting—and know precisely how you’ll respond.The key objectives when an incident occurs are to make sure team members know their roles and responsibilities – and to safeguard your employees, customers, and assets. Your business should develop a pre-loss risk management plan for responding to covered events so that these objectives are easier to achieve in stressful situations.
Your planning should include a point-by-point roadmap detailing how your workforce will respond to a workplace injury or property loss. This can range from the steps required in documenting and reporting a workplace accident, to a blueprint for responding to a cyber attack.
One way your firm can be proactive in planning its risk mitigation strategy is to take advantage of claims management training. When an event arises, fielding a workforce that’s fully prepared to tackle all contingencies can make a huge difference in limiting damage and capturing all the required documentation.
A strong partner will work with your organization to plan, implement and maintain a strong risk management strategy – including safety and loss prevention solutions, program development and training, and claims management.
2. Keep your valuations up to date. And make sure your coverages reflect your business’ key risks. Maintaining up-to-date, accurate valuations on your covered property is essential for accurate coverage.
You should know the proper valuations for all your exposures, and have the right types of policies and coverages in place before any loss or incident takes place. This strategy will help ensure you receive adequate reimbursement for any losses that occur. When assessing valuations, keep in mind that all exposures for your lines of business should be considered. This includes property, general liability, and data protection; depending on your business interests, other valuations—and coverages—may be essential as well.
One last point: To control your business’ exposures to losses and liabilities from outside interests, careful attention to contract management is critical.
3. Gather the information needed to support your claim.Thorough documentation is critical to ensure that you fully recoup your covered losses.
If loss or damage occurs, an immediate assessment should be made. This may include taking inventory or documenting with photographs when appropriate.
Key considerations and concerns should include:
Designated Roles. Who will be responsible for documenting and gathering data? Roles should be designated and well understood
Follow-Up. It’s your responsibility to protect your property from further damage that could occur after a covered incident. If you need to make temporary repairs, be sure to document that, too. You should also track your costs in making needed repairs
Cost Management. Of course, with extensive, complex damage and loss comes tracking headaches. In many cases, you may want to hire an expert in forensic accounting to track all costs associated with your claim
Documentation. When in doubt, document. For example, you may not be certain whether a particular damaged or lost asset is covered—including whether or not the loss will meet or exceed your deductible under your policy. You’re better off gathering the pertinent data now to avoid headaches later.
4. Get expert help for follow-up support and claim review.
Frequently, your business will have a lot riding on a claim. You need to be able to rely on claims experts for input once the process is underway to help you to optimally assemble and position your claim.
Are you working with a claims administration partner who understands your industry and unique vulnerabilities and can recommend quality service, premiums and coverage? Alternatively, if you’ve made the decision to manage claims internally, make sure you’re working with an insurer who offers the range of services needed to help you navigate the claims process successfully.
Claims follow up is also extremely important. In some instances, this may be required both to mitigate your loss and ensure you can fully recoup from it. For example, when responding to a property loss, it’s critical to protect your property from further damage. This can include securing the property from unauthorized access as well as making temporary repairs. You should be sure to document any and all actions taken – and the costs associated with those actions. In most instances, these costs can be recouped as part of the claim.
5. When coverage disputes arise, enlist proactive advocates. Industry knowledge and experience in settlement negotiations can make all the difference in working towards a just outcome. The M&T Claims Department plays a crucial role in advocating for our clients on open claims. Since premiums are based on incurred losses, it’s imperative to have a broker that monitors and holds carriers accountable for adequate claims reserves and settlements.
If coverage of an event is initially denied, it’s important to know the pros and cons of litigation vs. negotiating with the carrier to receive a portion of the claim. Here’s where taking advantage of the experience and technical expertise of specialists can work strongly on your behalf. In the case of complex cases, including those that may require litigation, the right advisors can help you assess and resolve the pertinent issues.
Your business deserves an insurance partner who’ll take the time to truly understand all facets of your business and help you source solutions.
If you have questions about what your business needs to optimize its loss control and claims competencies, M&T Insurance Agency is ready to get to work for you. Call us today at 1-800-716-8314.