November 25, 2014
Missouri Department of Insurance encourages impacted businesses in the St. Louis area to contact their insurance companies immediately
Business owners with insurance questions can also contact department for assistance
Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance encourages business owners in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area, who have sustained property damage, to contact their insurance companies as soon as possible. The department is currently making preparations to send a team to the St. Louis area to meet with impacted business owners and answer questions. Representatives from the Missouri Department of Insurance will be available tomorrow at the Ferguson Library to assist with insurance questions. Representatives are also available to answer questions at 800-726-7390.
"We encourage owners of damaged businesses to contact their insurance agent or company immediately," said department Director John M. Huff. "We also want to let businesses in Ferguson and in the St. Louis region know the state has trained insurance experts standing by, ready to assist them if they have questions or concerns about their insurance or the claims process."
The Department of Insurance offers these tips for impacted business owners:
- Contact your insurance agent's or company's toll-free claims number as soon as possible.
- If you have lost your company's contact information, the department may be able to help you locate it. Visit insurance.mo.gov or call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390.
- If your business suffered physical damage, make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. For example, a broken window should be boarded up to keep out rain. Otherwise, further damage will likely not be covered by your insurance policy. Keep the receipts for materials you buy so you can be reimbursed.
- Don't let contractors inspect your property if you're not watching. Some unscrupulous companies will cause damage to drive up the repair cost, and your insurance company will likely not cover the additional cost.
- Don't pay the whole repair bill in advance. Pay in full only when the work is completed according to your agreement.
- Be suspicious of anyone who offers to get you more money for your insurance claim. A public adjuster - required to be licensed by the department - may solicit you. Public adjusters will require part of your claim settlement as payment for their services. In general, consider hiring a public adjuster only if you reach an impasse with your insurance company. However, consumers may want to contact the department prior to hiring a public adjuster.
- If your business suffered a financial loss because it was forced to close, ask if your policy includes business income coverage.
- Keep receipts and records for any costs you incur to produce or reproduce financial records. These expenses may be covered under the "extra expense" coverage.
- If you believe your insurance company has not handled your claim properly, file a complaint with the department. The department will determine whether your insurance company has followed Missouri law in processing your claim.
Business owners can refer to the department's "Small Business Insurance" Web page, which offers information on commercial property, business interruption insurance and more.