Commercial property insurance covers damages to the physical assets of your business, including the building, inventory, and equipment. It does not include general liability coverage, but insurers usually bundle coverage with a liability insurance policy.
If your commercial property in Illinois suffers damage and your insurer refuses to cover your claim, the property damage attorneys at Nessler & Associates can help. We can review your policy and represent your interests to ensure you get a fair settlement.
Learn more about property insurance, why insurance companies deny claims when you need a lawyer, and how we can help.
What is Commercial Property Insurance?
Commercial property insurance protects your business’s physical assets, such as equipment, papers, and real estate. It allows you to file a claim for damages from unexpected events, like storms, fires, explosions, vandalism, or theft.
Although natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes aren’t usually covered, you can buy additional insurance coverage to protect yourself against these perils.
What Commercial Property Insurance Covers
A typical commercial property insurance policy covers damage to your building and the products you make or sell. It also protects the equipment and computers you use for business and other electronics, such as a security system. The policy covers items outside the building, such as fences or signs. Your policy might also cover:
- Furniture and fixtures
- Important documents
- Your physical inventory
Protection Against Natural Disasters and Other Accidents
Your policy protects against weather risks such as wind, hail, and lightning strikes. It also protects against fire and other accidents such as a burst pipe. However, your policy won’t protect against disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or floods, so if you operate in a high-risk area, obtain extra coverage for these events.
Protection Against Theft and Vandalism
Commercial property insurance covers theft and vandalism. Your insurance should cover if someone steals or destroys your products or property. For example, if a burglar breaks your storefront windows and steals your company laptop and merchandise, your insurer should cover the losses.
What Commercial Insurance Does Not Cover
Despite its many benefits, commercial property insurance doesn’t offer full coverage for all instances of loss or damage. Your policy likely won’t cover particular items or events, including:
- Employee theft
- Machines that break down
- Damaged customer property
- Products damaged in transit
- Records destroyed by intentional or foreseen circumstances
- Losses incurred by interruption of business
You can get protection from any events not covered by a standard policy through other types of insurance. For example, you can purchase business interruption insurance to protect your finances if an event temporarily halts your operations.
Why Do Insurance Companies Deny Claims?
Insurance companies deny claims to save money. The more they pay out, the less the company makes in revenue, so they try to deny or reduce claims to keep more profits. Insurers and their adjusters use multiple reasons to deny claims, including:
You Waited Too Long to File a Claim
Insurance policies specify how long you must file a claim after a loss. If you fail to file within the time limit, your insurer will not pay. Your time limit depends on multiple factors, including your insurer, specific policy, state, damage, and cause. You may have up to one year to file; however, the time frame varies and extends to multiple years.
Insurance Policy Does Not Cover the Type of Damage You Incurred
The insurance company might claim that your policy does not protect against the event that caused the damage. For example, they might argue that water damage after a thunderstorm resulted from flash flooding, which isn’t covered. In reality, a broken window and wind-driven rain caused the damage, and they should pay the claim.
You Lack Adequate Documentation of Damage or Inventory
After your property suffers damage, you should take detailed photos and videos of the structure and your commercial property. Pictures of your assets before the damage can also help prove the extent of necessary coverage. If you don’t have photos or videos to show the damage, it can affect your insurer’s decision to pay your claim.
You should also keep receipts of any items purchased to prove replacement costs.
For example, here are some of the items for which you should keep receipts on file:
- Retail displays
Not Protecting the Property From Further Damage After a Loss
Insurers do not have to pay for damage sustained because you failed to protect the property after the initial disaster. They sometimes use this reason to deny claims in bad faith. For example, they may claim that you didn’t secure your premises after a break-in, which led to additional theft or vandalism.
The Insurer Believes You Made a False Statement or Questionable Claim
The insurance company might argue that you lied about an aspect of your claim and deny or delay payment.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
You may need a property insurance lawyer if you plan to file a claim for commercial property damage or if your insurer rejects a claim. An insurance dispute lawyer can provide legal advice on obtaining a fair settlement in various circumstances. These include:
When You Disagree with the Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters work for the insurance carrier. Their goal is to make your claim as small as possible. A Chicago insurance attorney can use your documentation and policy to challenge an adjuster’s decision and push for a better settlement.
When Claims are Expensive or Complex
Some causes of damage can lead to a complex claims process, such as massive damage from a storm or fire. The insurance company may use the complexity of your claim to reduce your settlement or take a long time to process your claim. A commercial property insurance lawyer can help you gather the necessary documents to present to the insurance adjuster. This legal help ensures the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Attorneys can serve the same purpose for claims that involve significant expenses. For example, a car running into your building can damage the structure, mechanical systems, inventory, and equipment.
When Your Property Experiences Extensive Damage
Losing a significant portion of your physical assets to a natural disaster or crime spree results in an expensive, complicated claim. Hiring a lawyer ensures you have representation to protect you against a low settlement offer. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company and hold them to coverage in the policy so they don’t act in bad faith.
When Establishing Fault is Problematic
When you cannot prove who caused the damage to your property, the insurer may refuse to pay the claim. A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence of what caused the damage to your property with photographs, videos, or witness statements. They can also speak to an independent adjuster to assess the damage and help you establish fault to make the insurance company pay what they owe.
How Does a Lawyer Help?
A property insurance lawyer from Nessler & Associates can help by evaluating your claim, mitigating manipulative insurance provider tactics, and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
We Can Evaluate Your Claim
A skilled attorney can look at your documentation and policy to give you a good idea of what your claim is worth. They can also tell you if you need to gather additional evidence to support your claims, such as receipts and photographs.
At Nessler & Associates, we will carefully examine the scope and limitations of your coverage so you understand the issues and how we can achieve a prompt resolution of your claim.
We Know Insurance Company Tactics
Insurance lawyers understand the tactics these companies use to minimize or deny payouts. Insurers might argue that you caused or contributed to the damage or failed to protect your property after the initial damage. These reasons allow them to pay less or deny your claim.
Some companies offer a small settlement early in the process and attempt to scare you into taking it. Good legal counsel will prevent you from accepting a lowball offer and help you obtain a fair settlement for your losses.
Talk to an Illinois Insurance Claims Attorney
Millions of commercial insurance policyholders in Illinois faithfully pay their monthly premiums. They do this with the understanding that if their property is vandalized or a natural disaster should strike, their insurance company will reimburse them for the damage.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals are met with lowball offers or denials when submitting a claim. We work with you to understand your policy, rights, and legal options. We also ensure that your commercial insurance company is accountable for its obligations.
Call our law firm at (800) 727-8010 or fill out our contact form to schedule a complimentary consultation if you’ve experienced commercial property damage in Illinois.