Settling an insurance claim involves several stages and there are key actions firms can take to ensure it is resolved quickly – over to Vicky Linley Cert CII, head of claims at IFM Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Getting a claim paid is arguably the most important aspect of insurance for a business.  After all, if the worst happens, a business, having paid its premium, should expect a claim to be met to put things right.

Settling an insurance claim involves several stages and there are key actions which firms can take to ensure their claim is resolved quickly.

Motor, Property and Employer’s Liability are the most common types of claim which are made by businesses and indeed made against them.

Being prepared for motor claims

It is imperative firms register any commercial vehicles used by the business on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), a central record of all insured vehicles in the UK. It is a legal requirement for vehicles to be registered on the MID. If not, insurers can reject any claim made against the vehicle.

The premium your business pays for motor insurance is based on a calculation of various risk factors and it is vital you inform your broker of any vehicle or driver changes, along with details of any convictions or prosecutions pending.  This may increase the premium you pay, but you will be safe in the knowledge that your policy will respond in the event of a claim.

Terms and conditions within insurance policies do stipulate that claims/any incident that may give rise to a claim be reported immediately.
This not only ensures your own claim is dealt with quickly, but, in the case of an ‘at fault’ claim, allows your insurer to potentially deal proactively with the third party claim too, cutting costs.

Taking photographs at the scene is a great way of capturing evidence of the damage, surrounding area and weather conditions.  Your broker will assist in ensuring all required information is gathered to enable your claim to be processed.

Acting on property claims

The main causes here are fire, theft and flood.  Adjusters have been used less frequently in recent years and tend to be reserved for the more complicated or larger losses.  The smaller claims – and certainly claims below £5,000 – are generally dealt with within the insurer claims department. You must retain original purchase receipts as these can be provided, along with photographs of damage, a crime reference number (if applicable) and replacement estimates.

If you buy new equipment and machinery, let your broker know to avoid being underinsured.  This means, at the point of making a claim, a small business could find itself exposed if its policy fails to respond fully because the sums insured are inadequate. A broker can provide a small business with greater insight into the must-have areas of cover and what sums insured will be correct for them.

Protecting your business against liability claims

There is a continuing flow of claims from former or current employees for personal injury against employers and the time limit for this is three years. This means court proceedings must be issued within three years of someone first being aware they have suffered an injury at work.  If you receive a solicitor’s letter for such a claim, you should not respond and send a copy of the letter to your broker immediately.

You should ensure your accident book and RIDDOR report are fully completed following an injury. Always inform your broker of injuries.  Even if these do not result in a claim, insurers can be informed for ‘information only’ giving them the chance to make early investigations and if a claim is later received.

It is also vital to undertake full risk assessments, keep comprehensive training records, enforce rules around the wearing of PPE and to keep on top of any repairs to reduce the chance of a successful liability claim.