When making a fire damage insurance claim, you need to be prepared to give full details of the incident that led to the fire or flood and an estimate of the cost of the fire and flood clean up. Call Charles Piton Ltd (CPL) first to help you assess the damage. It’s essential that you get a reference number from your insurer and name the first time you call, especially if the person you are speaking to can’t help you. Make sure you have your insurance policy number, name, address and mobile telephone number to hand before you call. If you are uncertain about what to say, you can speak to CPL first to get a quote day or night 365 days per year. We are experts in helping businesses with fire damage claims and flood damage restoration and will help you put your claim in writing if necessary.
You must check your insurance policy is in date before you need to claim on an annual or six monthly basis and don’t rely on reminders from your insurers. If the incident involves broken glass, this should be removed and replaced without delay by telephoning Charles Piton Ltd’s emergency number or a 24 hour per day business insurance hotline.
You must inform your insurer if you have an emergency at your premises which:
- Puts your health or your employees health at risk;
- Creates a risk of damage to your premises or property;
- Creates unacceptable working conditions.
In return, your insurer’s emergency service will:
- Offer to arrange for a suitable contractor to carry out any necessary emergency repairs;
- Tell you the contractors’ call-out and hourly labour charges which you are responsible for paying.
- Apply administration charges that you can claim back if you have a valid fire damage insurance claim.
Check what is excluded from your fire damage insurance claim before a fire or flood occurs
Computer equipment may be excluded from a fire damage insurance claim if it has been tampered with, has a virus, Trojan horse or if an unauthorised person has used the equipment. You must therefore check your insurance remains comprehensive and fit for your purpose regularly as your business grows and check if cyber-attacks are covered. Fittings and fixtures may not be covered by buildings insurance etc. and these are not the only important exclusions.
Other exclusions may include spillage of some hazardous material including radioactive substances and atomic or nuclear fission that may cause an explosion. Most insurers will not pay for fire damage or flood damage restoration caused by you, a tenant or a lawful visitor and all illegal activity will necessarily be excluded. You also need to check your policy for damage caused by a storm, lightning or flash flood because adverse weather may not be covered.
To sum up, if you or your employer are negligent about looking after your commercial premises or if you take risks with health and safety, your fire damage insurance claim may be rejected. However, in the case of a machine that has developed an electrical fault, all other machinery should be covered apart from the faulty equipment which will be excluded. This means, the insurer should pay to replace all machinery apart from the piece of equipment which started the fire. An insurer will not pay for gradual deterioration of equipment including machinery and computers because this is considered to be ‘wear and tear.’
As an employer who owns a thriving business that could be a sandwich factory, fleet of cars or a farm, check before taking out the insurance that valuable single items are covered by your business insurance. This applies even if the items are under warranty when purchased because the warranty may affect your claim. The National Farmers Union has a particularly comprehensive commercial select policy which covers expensive single items of machinery as well as premises. These need to be clearly itemised at the outset when the policy is taken out and if you buy new, valuable equipment, notify your insurer without delay and ask them to update your policy.
A comprehensive business insurance policy should cover fire and flood clean up and replace specified single items.
However, as a business owner, you need a certificate of employer’s liability which you must retain even if the law changes, indemnity insurance and public liability insurance including injury to third party or loss of or damage to third party property.
In addition, legal expenses within agreed territorial limits will include a maximum per individual claim and an absolute maximum of all claims together which is the aggregate maximum in any one period of insurance. Security at the premises is another factor that your insurer will want information about in advance. For example is there an alarm which triggers an automatic police response? Are your premises secured? Is there a fire alarm and if so, is it approved by the Loss Prevention Certification Board? If you only have hand held fire extinguishers and a Police response, say so because if you don’t make a full declaration before a fire or flood, this could invalidate your fire damage insurance claim.
Your business must comply with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA.) To take care of your staff, you need a comprehensive health and safety policy that details personal protective equipment and assesses risk across all aspects of the business. This may include asbestos or other dangerous chemical sampling and using dangerous equipment. In these scenarios you may require prior notification and agreement from your insurer before undertaking high risk activities. If you do not make a full disclosure, it may invalidate your insurance. Subcontractors’ insurances must be checked to comply with the Contractors Condition. Motor fleet insurance covers cars for business use, social, domestic and pleasure use only. It’s different to commercial vehicles that have comprehensive cover for any driver over the age of 21 and motor legal expenses cover.