How to File a Business Insurance Claim

Image courtesy of [Kirby Hamilton] / Getty Images.

How do you file a claim? A business may have many claim-free years. Then suddenly, a loss occurs and you need to file a claim. It's important to know what to do. This article will explain how to file a business insurance claim.

Filing a claim involves three steps: planning, reporting and following up.


Planning ahead is a critical part of risk management. Business owners should have a disaster plan in place.

Employees should be trained how to report a claim properly. Here are some tips that can help with planning:

  • Cameras Digital cameras provide a record of an event. A picture or video can help substantiate the facts in your written claim. You may want to place a digital camera in each of your vehicles. You can make cameras available to clerks, managers, foreman, and clerks in your shipping and receiving department. Instruct your employees how and when to use the cameras. Consider using surveillance cameras in building entrances, exits and parking areas. Choose cameras that retain digital records for at least thirty days.
  • Uniform Written Reporting Forms Use uniform documents for reporting accidents or major incidents. Make the forms available to your employees and instruct them how to use them.
  • Mock Drills Test your disaster plan by staging mock disaster drills.
  • Regulatory Compliance Be sure your disaster plan complies with safety regulations imposed by state or federal agencies.


    Report incidents such as fires, accidents, thefts, weather damage, and third-party injuries to your insurer immediately. Many insurance policies require you to report accidents or claims to your insurer as soon as practicable (as soon as possible).

    • Report to Law Enforcement Report property incidents involving crimes to law enforcement. Many commercial insurance policies, including commercial property and auto physical damage, require you to report theft losses to the police.  
    • Contact Your Insurance Professional Your agent or broker should explain the claim submission process. He or she will collect information from you and prepare a claim form. This form is sent to the insurer. Ask your agent for a time line on the claim process. He or she should also explain how to contact the insurer's claims department.
    • Contact Your Insurer Once your insurer receives the claim form, it will assign your claim to an adjuster. The adjuster may be independent or an employee of the insurer. Try to contact your adjuster within 72 hours after filing your claim. The adjuster will request a proof of loss. When you send the adjuster the completed form, include any relevant photos or videos.
    • Contact Professionals to Assess and Repair Damage Many businesses delay critical repairs. This is a mistake because prompt repairs can keep your business running. Get estimates of repair costs from reputable contractors as quickly as possible. Try to obtain two or three estimates.
    • Contact Competent Legal Counsel Consider hiring a lawyer who is knowledgeable in insurance to prepare a claims package to present to your insurer. A lawyer with insurance experience may be able to facilitate the claims process. An attorney can assist you in disputes with your insurer.
    • Contact Competent Accounting Assistance Consider retaining a forensic accountant if you are filing a business income claim. An accountant can prepare the documents you need to file your claim.

    Following Up

    Once you have reported a claim to your insurer, be sure to follow up regularly with the adjuster.  Mark your calendar to contact the adjuster on specific dates. Stick to your schedule. Be polite but assertive when dealing with your adjuster. If you aren't satisfied with the adjuster's response, ask your agent or broker for assistance. He or she should take an active role in resolving your claim. 

    Article edited by Marianne Bonner

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