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The impact of Hurricane Matthew in Florida wasn't as severe as expected, but that's not to say everyone escaped unscathed, and there might be more to come as the storm circles back in the Atlantic. And small businesses can feel a double impact of the storm -- initial property damage coupled with a downturn in business afterwards.
If you're a Florida small business, here's some guidance on handling property insurance claims and a loss of business following Hurricane Matthew.
The Jacksonville Business Journal had some tips on handling post-storm insurance claims. The first is locating your insurance policies and knowing what kind of damage they cover. You may have a general property insurance policy that would cover damage to your office or storefront. But beware, most general policies don't include flood damage, so you may need a separate flood insurance policy.
Next, make sure to document the damage as extensively as possible. Photos and even video of damaged property and inventory may be needed as evidence in your insurance claim, and it may be necessary to gather this info before making repairs. You should also take whatever steps you can to prevent further damage - cover exposed areas, make minor repairs, and keep track of any expenses incurred in safeguarding your property as you may be able to get reimbursed later.
Finally, contact your insurer as soon as possible. With a storm this large, there are bound to be hundreds or thousands of claims, and you can't spend any extra time out of business.
Even if your business survived the storm without a scratch, there will likely be a downturn in sales or services while customers rebuild and regroup. And most insurance policies don't cover lost revenue during or after an emergency, so you may need a separate business interruption insurance policy. As the Orlando Business Journal points out, business interruption insurance can cover "lost profits, payroll and other operational expenses" needed during the time it takes to up and running after a disaster strikes.
You're first concern after a storm like Matthew is personal safety, but you're also looking out for your small business's welfare. If you need help filing your commercial insurance claim, or your claim has been denied, you can contact an experienced insurance attorney in your area.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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