If your commercial property sustains damage in an unexpected accident, you could experience numerous losses, expenses, and related concerns that will not affect most private property owners. Fortunately, commercial property insurance policies cover many common losses from unexpected accidents.
For instance, your policy might cover:
- Damage to commercial structures and fixtures. Most commercial property insurance policies will pay for damage to your property’s permanent structures and fixtures as long as a covered event causes the damage. Commonly covered events include unintentional fires, wind storms, and criminal activity. If you have a commercial policy, it should pay for damage from covered events that affect your property’s walls, roof, foundations, and other structures.
- Damage to business personal property. Some policies include coverage for business personal property (BPP), including the objects inside and immediately outside your commercial property. If you have BPP coverage, it should pay for damage to things in and around your property, like furnishings, machinery, equipment, stock, and personal items you use for business purposes.
- Damage to the personal property of others. Most commercial insurance policies extend your coverage to include the personal property of others when you are responsible for that property. If you have this type of coverage, it should pay for damage to items you are borrowing or renting from others for business purposes and customer belongings that are currently on your property.
- Business operations interruption losses. If you included business interruption coverage when you purchased your commercial insurance policy, it should pay for any physical or financial business losses you incur due to the accident. For instance, you could claim compensation for lost business profits, lost operating expenses, or extended interruption costs.
Remember that your commercial policy will not cover everything, even when a covered event occurs. For instance, your commercial property insurance policy will not pay for injuries to your employees or customers after a covered event. Injured employees and customers must file claims with your workers’ compensation and general liability policies, respectively.
Commercial Property Damage Facts and Statistics
Orlando is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and is reportedly emerging as a southeastern tech hub of the United States, so Orlando is full of commercial properties.
Let’s review some key data that reveals the many perils affecting commercial properties throughout the U.S.:
- In one recent year, the insurance industry reported nearly $185 billion in insured losses among commercial policyholders.
- Damage from flooding increasingly threatens the commercial real estate market, with roughly 730,000 retail, office, and multi-unit commercial properties facing an annualized risk for flood damage nationwide.
- Insurance experts estimate that structural damage from flooding could cost as much as $13.5 billion in a single year.
- During one five-year period, U.S. fire departments reportedly responded to more than 3,300 fires in commercial office properties per year.
- As a result of the commercial office fires that occurred each year, there were an average of four deaths, 44 nonfatal injuries, and $112 million in property damage.
- Approximately one in four businesses never reopen when an unforeseen disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, forces the business to close.
Common Types of Commercial Property Damage
Many commercial properties are in exposed or high-traffic locations that leave them vulnerable to:
- Fire damage. Fires and explosions can affect commercial properties when people leave cooking fires unattended, fail to properly store volatile substances, or install electrical systems without appropriate safeguards. Smoke from fires can also permeate interior surfaces and settle into furniture and other soft objects.
- Storm damage. The most common type of storm damage that affects commercial properties in Orlando comes from hurricanes, which bring rain, strong winds, and destruction. Some Orlando properties also sustain damage from thunderstorms, lightning strikes, tornadoes, and hailstorms.
- Water damage. Hurricanes cause plenty of water damage in Orlando, but many commercial properties also sustain water damage from flooding. Flooding can occur due to heavy rain, leaks, or plumbing failures and often contributes to several other issues, such as structural defects and mold growth.
- Other damage. Criminal behavior and civil disturbances can also lead to commercial property damage in the form of vandalism, burglary, and theft. Commercial properties can sustain damage from criminal acts due to civil demonstrations, disgruntled employees, and angry customers.
Filing a Commercial Insurance Claim After an Accident
When you file a commercial insurance claim after a property damage accident, it is often difficult to get the compensation you need for a few reasons. First, many insurance companies will dispute the cause or extent of the damage, which often makes it harder to prove that your policy covers the damage. Commercial insurance policies usually have more exclusions and conditions that are harder to meet when you file a claim than personal policies.
Commercial insurance companies will generally do whatever they can to limit the amount of money they have to pay for your claim. They might do this by using loopholes in your policy or unfavorably interpreting it. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, so their primary concern is always to protect their bottom line, not to cover your losses. That’s why it’s best to work with an experienced commercial insurance claims attorney who can help you demand appropriate compensation for your losses.
At the Law Firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A., our Orlando attorneys are all too familiar with the underhanded tactics that insurance companies use to avoid paying their fair share. We are here to stand up to greedy corporations and pursue fair recoveries on behalf of commercial property owners in the Sunshine State.
What to Do If Your Commercial Property Sustains Damage
If your commercial property sustains damage due to an unforeseen event, to lay the foundation for a successful insurance claim you can:
- Document everything. Take pictures and videos of the damage to your property, make a list of all the damaged items, and locate documentation showing the value of your property.
- Mitigate the damage. Take steps to mitigate the damage to your property, which means preventing the damage from worsening. You might need to throw tarps over holes in your roof, board up broken windows, or set up a dehumidifier.
- Contact your insurance provider. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the damage. When you make the call, have your policy number and other relevant information ready.
- Cooperate with the adjuster. The insurance company will likely send an adjuster to inspect the damage and assess the cost of repairs. Follow them around during their inspection and take note of anything they evaluate.
- Hire a contractor. Find a licensed contractor to get an estimate of the repair costs you can provide to your insurance company.
- Contact an attorney. Hire an attorney with experience handling commercial insurance claims to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.