Although the thought of an accident is unpleasant, they do happen. Insurance is one way to make sure that any eventualities can be dealt with in the best possible manner. Making a claim on your policy is the only way to deal with business emergencies.

When you initially receive your insurance policy you should have a clear description of the risks that it covers. Before calling up the insurer to make a claim check that the policy covers the loss or damage suffered. If you are uncertain, call your insurer's helpline.

What policy to claim on?

As a business you will have various forms of insurance, so it is important to decide which policy to claim under – there may be cases when you will have two policies that you could legitimately use.

For instance, if your property is ruined because of torrential rain or a storm you could claim on your buildings, Acts of God and business interruption policies. However, claiming on one may mean that the premiums the following year rise dramatically whereas on another the impact may be minimal.

Who to contact

Next call up the insurance provider and ask for a claims form. There should be a phone number on the policy documentation. Complete the form as soon as possible, including – if possible – estimates on replacement, repair and loss of revenue.

If you feel that you are the victim of a crime – theft, vandalism or sabotage – you must also contact the police as soon as possible.

If it is necessary to get repairs done straight away in order to resume business and prevent further damage, arrange for the work to be done and keep all the bills. These costs will probably be considered as part of the claim.

The majority of insurance companies have 24 hour emergency telephone lines if immediate work is needed to get your business up and running again. They will be able to give you names of recommended tradespeople for emergency repairs, as well as advice on how to make a claim with them.

Claim settlement

Once the insurance company has received your estimates it will either pay your claim, arrange for an inspector to visit the company or send a loss adjuster to handle the whole claim. Generally there is no need for you to appoint someone to represent your claim.