This industry prides itself on the support that it provides for franchisees from the moment they sign their franchise agreement. In times of natural disaster, such aid gives franchisees an advantage over independent small business owners, as most can look to their franchisors for financial and emotional assistance, and to their network of fellow franchisees for advice.
However, after damage is caused by flooding and gales, claiming insurance is often still a necessity for franchisees in order to make their businesses opperational again.
There are several small business Protection for Property Insurance types that your branch may be entitled to claim:
- Buildings Insurance – to pay for damage to your business buildings caused by storms, flooding, lightening and so on. If you work from home, make sure to check if the home insurance you took out covers your business activities there.
- Business Interruption Insurance – this should pay for the shortfall in profit and any extra expenses for running the business that occur as a result of damage done to your property.
- Contents Insurance – this pays for the damage caused to equipment and to stock.
There are certain tactics that should be used when claiming insurance after bad weather. The insurer needs to be contacted as soon as possible after the damage is done, and always before any emergency repairs are arranged. Most insurance companies offer a 24-hour emergency helpline (the number can be found on the insurer's or the ABI's website), or have an online claims form that you can fill in. Even if you can't find your documents, don't panic, as your policy details should be in the insurer's database. It is advisable to keep notes of the time and date of every phone call you make to your insurer, who you spoke to, and what was agreed during the conversation.
After you've made contact, if the monetary value of your claim is large enough – typically more than about £5,000 – the insurance company will send out a loss adjustor free of charge to visit your property and assess the work that needs to be done. As loss adjustors are so busy during these weeks you may choose to hire one yourself, rather than wait for the insurer's to appear.
Make sure to take photos of any destruction that has occurred, and always keep receipts of repair work done. Don't throw away any damaged equipment or stock without running it past your insurer first, as this is your evidence.
The ABI have announced that the Christmas and New Year flooding and storms insurance claims reached over £426m – and that was just up to January 8th.
I Don't Have Insurance – Help!
We all know that companies are required by law to have Employers' Liability Insurance for their employees and Third Party Motor Insurance if their business uses motor vehicles. Protection for Property insurance, however, is completely voluntary. Even if you 'forgot' to take it out last year, even if your franchisor is unable to aid you right now, and even if you aren't in Somerset, there is another place to go...
RBS have launched the UK Storm Business Fund, a £250m fund to supply three month interest free loans to ensure quick recovery for the small businesses whose trading has been impaired by flooding and gales. There is also a quick application process for those who need immediate help in replacing equipment damaged by the weather. Find out if you qualify for these packages, which are not just for RBS customers. But hurry: they're granted on a first come, first serve basis.
Pictures by Maggie Smith and Vorakorn with freedigitalphotos