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Insurance Claim Process

Information for Business Owners Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Commercial Insurance Claims Process

For help filing a claim with your commercial insurer, call Arnold & Itkin today. Having a lawyer in your corner forces insurance companies to handle your claim quickly and honestly. Call (888) 400-2101 or use our short online form!

The insurance claims process for business owners will be largely identical to the process for homeowner’s claims. The major difference is that commercial insurance providers offer flood insurance to businesses, while homeowners have to buy flood insurance from the government. As a result, almost all of your business’ primary relief will come from your insurer—and they’re not likely to let you have the full amount without a long and arduous process. Here’s how it will likely go.

#1: The Adjuster Will Offer a Fast, Low-Ball Settlement

The profit model for insurance companies these days is built on one premise: offer you as little money as possible in hopes you will take the low-ball offer because of financial pressures.

That’s not a conspiracy theory—business consultants from McKinsey & Company developed this business model for Allstate and others in the mid-1990s that used automatic settlement offers significantly smaller than what claimants deserved.

The assumption is as simple as it is insulting: it presumes that claimants aren’t damage experts, and thus will take any settlement as long as it arrives quickly. The McKinsey Model has made billions for insurance companies by depriving businesses of the resources they need to rebuild after a disaster. Such a model is bad enough, but it gets worse: the profit model demands that adjusters prioritize the payouts that are small, and delay the payouts that are correctly-sized for the claimant’s needs. So even if you’re asking for the bare minimum of what you need, your insurance company will offer even less than you ask for.

#2: Your Case Will Be Delayed

Adjusters are required to respond to your case within a certain amount of time, but they’re not required to pay within a specific amount of time. If they simply check in with you every 60 days or order new inspections, your claim could stay open for months.

If your business was flooded, it shouldn’t take several weeks to confirm you need relief. However, our firm has seen the same thing happen to other business owners we’ve represented. For most businesses, they can’t afford to delay the rebuilding process. Stopping revenue or operations for even a few weeks could destroy a company, leaving employees and owners without their livelihoods. Insurance companies know this—and they’re counting on it to twist your arm into settling.

#3: Your Claim / Appeal Will Be Denied

Former insurance adjusters have reported using a number of tricks to put the pressure on small businesses to settle for less than they deserve. One trick is falsifying damage reports to allow the insurance company to deny valid claims—a practice that State Farm whistleblowers uncovered after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast. Another practice was denying a claim, then filing a new damage report to justify the denial—a practice that clearly violates an insurance company’s “good faith” requirement.

If you are a business owner filing a claim, chances are you may run into at least one, if not both, of these tactics.

Houston Can (and Needs to) Fight Back

One of the best ways to combat all these tactics is to put the pressure back onto the insurance company. How? By hiring an attorney. Adjusters want to make filing a civil suit expensive and time-consuming because they know a trial would hold them accountable for their actions. Hiring an attorney early in the process forces adjusters to handle your claim differently and seriously. It lets the insurance company know that if they don’t give your business the relief it needs to rebuild, there’s an attorney waiting to take them to court. It changes the dynamic, and it changes the result. That’s who we are at Arnold & Itkin. As Texans and as people who call Houston home, we take our city’s recovery personally. Businesses should have access to every penny they need to recover—but insurance companies located hundreds of miles away are slowing down our recovery. That’s unacceptable.

Stand with us. Let’s hold insurance companies responsible for the way they’ve treated Houston’s businesses and hard-working families. Call (888) 400-2101 or contact us online for a free review of your legal and financial options. All of our futures are on the line, but we won’t let you fight alone.