Be Prepared

Whether your business has suffered a claim in the past or is completely incident free, it is important to know what to do in the event a claim happens at your facility.

It's important to know what to do in the event a claim happens at your facility.

DO understand the terms of your policy and have a good working relationship with your insurance agent, including having their contact information readily available. Insurance policies are a type of contract in which there are promises made – the insured must pay a premium in exchange for the insurer (insurance company) to provide certain coverages.

DON’T try to settle a claim before reporting it to the insurance company. If a loss occurs at your facility, report the claim without delays to your insurance agent. Attempting to settle a claim outside of your policy could create a breach in contract, compromising your coverage and liability defense. This is the reason you have insurance in place.

Steps to Prevent Claims of Negligence

Keep a signed lease contract on file between you and your tenant. This is the single most important tool you have for protecting yourself against claims. Its importance cannot be overemphasized.

Use a lease that contains language providing for the maximum dollar value of goods that a tenant may store on your premises. Such language may help limit your liability in cases where a judgment is held against you. We recommend that you consult with a legal advisor when drawing up such language.

Implement a regular program of preventative maintenance.

Offer tenant insurance to all customers. There are precedent-setting court cases in which the self-storage owners were found not to be liable for damage to a customer’s goods because the facility had a tenant insurance program available.

If a Claim Occurs do your best to remain calm and take the necessary steps to make sure everyone is safe and secure.

  • Call 911 if necessary
  • Call your Insurance Agent right away

Most insurance policies specify when losses must be reported to the insurance carrier. Many policies use language such as a claim must be reported promptly. Keeping your agent aware of a potential claim could save time, stress and money. Even if you don’t think anything will come of a claim, you should still report it to your insurance agent as an “incident only” report just in case something does manifest.

Your insurance agent will need to know the following information:

  1. Your personal contact information
  2. Legal entity name
  3. Incident location information
  4. Incident Report and/or Police Report
  5. Include a full detailed description of the accident
  6. Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage
  7. Save all receipts for what you spent as you will need to submit them to the insurance carrier

Discuss deductibles with your insurance professional and find out when you will be contacted by an adjuster. Sometimes the person taking the information does not determine if or how the claim will be paid since they are just getting the initial details. The claims adjusting department will determine coverage. The truth is, insurance is not black and white, and it is nearly impossible to list all the circumstances that may cause a claim. It is the insurance company’s ultimate responsibility to determine if the loss is covered.


Jenny Bortman

Experienced Vice President at Universal Insurance Programs in Phoenix AZ.