No matter how prepared you may be or how many precautions you take, the risk of a fire in your commercial property is always present. Thankfully, most fires result in only minor damage to equipment or paint work. A serious fire, however, can have a devastating effect on a business and incur massive financial losses, both through temporary ceasing of trade and the cost of repair works. The services of a loss assessor are key in this instance and will ensure both you and your insurance broker are getting the fairest assessment of damage and compensation.
To help make the process run as smoothly as possible, here are some steps you should take in the event of a commercial property fire:
- Once the fire has been dealt with and the immediate danger has passed, it is critical that you inform your insurance company and landlord (if you don’t own the property) about the event straight away. Arrange for a loss assessor to visit the site and get a better indication of the damage; your insurance company may also send a loss adjuster to verify the condition of the site.
- Next, ensure the premises are safe and that there is no risk of further damage. The fire brigade will be the best judgement of this. Only when they say it is safe to do so should you re-enter the building. Thoroughly examine all gas and electricity appliances and outlets, and make sure the supply for both is turned off.
- Remove any valuables from the building; any business or accounts records, trading licenses, cash, employee documentation, etc. Secure the building and protect it from further damage (through vandalism, theft or weather) by informing the police. Do not leave the site until it has been fully secured.
- The loss assessor will then visit the site. Take photographs and create an inventory of damage to aid them; they will keep their own corresponding version. The loss assessor will handle contact with the insurance company during this stage. During repairs, keep meticulous receipts and records at all stages of the work to supplement your claim.
The insurance company will then determine the exact details of the claim, which will vary depending on the cause of the fire, damage incurred by it and any financial losses as a result. You will be notified as soon as a conclusion is reached, and then the claim can be processed.