Working with Your Insurance Company

Three people at a table having a business meeting
Image courtesy of [Gary Burchell] / Getty Images.

As a business owner, you will need to interact with your insurer at one time or another. While the bulk of your communication may be through an insurance intermediary, you will occasionally need to speak directly with insurance company employees, such as adjusters or loss control representatives. If you handle them well, these interactions can help build good rapport with your insurer.

Maintaining an effective working relationship with your insurer is an important part of good risk management.

Here are some steps you can take to help you accomplish that goal. 

  • Assign a Point Person Assign a responsible employee, such as a bookkeeper, controller or treasurer, to handle all communication on insurance issues. Inform your employees that only the point person will communicate with your agent or broker, and your insurer. This step will help ensure that important information isn't lost and that critical tasks are completed in a timely manner.
  • Request a Point Person For the sake of continuity, ask your agent or broker to designate one person to manage all of your policies. The assigned person should handle all interactions with your insurer that are conducted on your behalf. When someone in particular (rather than no one) is responsible for overseeing your affairs, important details are less likely to be overlooked.  
  • Communicate in Writing Communicate with your agent, broker or insurer in writing. You can use electronic or hard copy documents. If you are dealing with an urgent matter that requires a telephone call, be sure you make a written record of what was said. Summarize the conversation in a letter or email and send a copy to your insurer and your agent. Written communication is especially important when dealing with coverage requests or claim issues. A verbal request may get "lost in the shuffle" at an insurance company or agency.
  • Remember Insurers' Records It is important to remember that insurers keep detailed records of every interaction with customers. They log every call as well as the substance of each call. If you speak with claims personnel on the telephone, the call will likely be recorded. The logs and recordings will become part of the claim file.
  • Use Claim Numbers When communicating with your insurance company or agent regarding a claim, be sure to site the claim number. Insurers' claim records are organized based on claim numbers, not policyholders' names.
  • Submit Complete Information While it may seem otherwise, insurance companies are in the business of paying claims. They collect premiums, which they use to pay claims. Nevertheless, insurers don't pay every claim. If they did, they wouldn't survive. They scrutinize the payments they make to policyholders since these affect insurers' financial ratings. You can minimize these roadblocks by filing your claim properly. Include complete information. Make sure you understand your policy. Let your adjuster know that he or she is dealing with a knowledgeable policyholder. Make you claim stand out.
  • Don't Make Empty Threats Your insurer is dragging its feet on your claim settlement. Will a threat to sue your insurer speed up the process? The answer is no. Once you mention legal action, the adjuster will send your file to the insurer's legal department or outside counsel. You will then be dealing with lawyers, not claims personnel. Don't threaten to file a lawsuit, move your business elsewhere, or take other action unless you intend to follow through. Claims personnel are motivated to settle your claim quickly and amicably. Attorneys are not. They make more money if your claim drags on and on.
  • Establish Long-Term Relationships Like most businesses, insurers appreciate loyal customers. Try to develop a long-term relationship with one insurer. This relationship can pay off in the event of a large or complicated claim. Don't flit from one insurer to another in order to save a few dollars.
  • Retain Competent Counsel If you retain an attorney to represent your company in an insurance matter, choose a firm that has experience dealing with insurance companies. Your attorney should understand insurance law and be prepared to take your case to trial, if necessary.

Article edited by Marianne Bonner