Both small and large business owners often take out insurance policies to cover their brick-and-mortar establishments. Commercial property insurance of this kind is a great way to protect against unexpected property damage in the future. However, it can be easy for business owners to quickly forget the details of their policies, as the demands of the business rightly capture their attention. When property damage occurs later down the road, it isn’t uncommon for many to wonder whether their insurance will cover the costs.
Below, we discuss the five most common types of commercial property damage claims. Depending on your insurance policy, property damage sustained by these common causes may or may not be covered. It’s a good idea to speak to a lawyer about your claim before approaching your insurance company in order to best prepare your claim for approval.
Why Commercial Property Owners Should Have Insurance
Commercial property is any piece of real estate dedicated to business activities. This means that the commercial property you own is really valuable, as it represents your livelihood and the livelihood of your employees. This is the biggest and most important reason to purchase insurance for your commercial property, because if something were to happen to it or the physical assets inside were lost, the business could suffer major, if not devastating, losses. While you may take other steps to secure the premises from property damage, this security is never truly a guarantee. For these reasons, it makes good business sense to purchase commercial property insurance as a safeguard.
But what does this type of insurance actually cover? There are a few types of damage to commercial property that are quite common. These may or may not be a part of your commercial property insurance policy, since some types of coverage are optional and come with an additional price tag. For example, damage caused by earthquakes or floods isn’t typically included in a standard commercial property insurance policy, although this may vary by geographical area.
The five most common types of commercial property damage claims consist of burglary and theft, storm damage, fire damage, window damage, and roof damage. Below, we discuss each of these types of claims and if commercial property insurance companies typically approve them.
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Burglary and Theft
Commercial property is a frequent target of burglary, vandalism, and theft for a few reasons. First, since these buildings or locations are used for business operations, commercial properties typically house valuable assets and equipment. Further, since commercial property is often largely uninhabited after business hours, these buildings and commercial areas are relatively easy targets for mischief.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often deny theft and burglary claims. This is because it can be difficult to prove that a break-in occurred, that certain items were stolen, or the value of the stolen items.
Storm destruction is a common and particularly devastating cause of commercial property damage. Powerful storms can cause power outages, knock down trees, break windows, damage inventory or machinery, blow off roofs, and even cause structural damage to the entire building. While storm damage claims are more manageable than are claims of burglary or theft, it’s important to detail the full extent of the damages in order to get the coverage your business deserves.
The ruin that fires cause is another particularly challenging type of property damage for commercial property to sustain. If not controlled and extinguished quickly, the entire building and all the assets inside are at risk. An engulfing fire can therefore be devastating. To successfully file a fire damage claim, you should photograph damaged items and the building itself. And keeping as much of this evidence as you can without discarding it is important, however, just in case your insurance provider requests to see it in person.
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Perhaps surprisingly, window damage claims make the list of top commercial property damage claims. This type of damage can occur due to storms, high winds, or hail and doesn’t necessarily involve shattered glass. Structural or seal damage to window and fenestration systems are often overlooked since they’re not readily apparent. Speak with an experienced attorney to make sure you’re not omitting window damage in your claim.
Storms are the most common cause of roof damage, as strong winds, down-pouring elements, flying debris, and falling trees can impact the structure of a building’s roof. It’s not uncommon for insurance providers to deny roof damage claims by arguing that the roof was old, that the damage was a result of normal wear and tear, that it was built from known risky materials, or that the business owner in some way caused the damage.
When to Contact a Lawyer
You may want to consider contacting a lawyer as early as possible after the damage occurs. Since your commercial property functions as a place of business, ensuring that your claim gets approval is crucial to bouncing back. Unfortunately, insurance providers are often quick to deny claims, as they don’t want to pay out if they don’t have to. For this reason, an experienced attorney is an asset to have at your disposal at the outset and can improve your chances of securing an approved claim on the first try. If you decide to file the claim yourself and get denied, you can always contact an attorney to help you take the next steps. Either way, a property attorney is well equipped to decipher your insurance policy and how the law applies to your case.
Have Questions? Contact Our Experienced Property Attorneys Today
If your commercial property has recently suffered damage, you may have a valid commercial property insurance claim. However, navigating your long and complex insurance policy can feel overwhelming. The attorneys at GED Lawyers are happy to step in and guide you through this difficult task. If you have more questions about where to start, what to do now, or how to file your claim, contact us today.