Self-storage properties are not immune to financial losses caused by liability or property damage. While these incidents are inevitable, it is crucial for facility owners and managers to understand how they occur and how to navigate them effectively.
One of the most important aspects of dealing with these incidents is having insurance coverage in place to protect your business. However, it is not enough to have insurance; preparation is key. This means having clear procedures in place for filing a claim with your insurance carrier through the proper channels. Timely reporting is essential, as it initiates the investigation process and can lead to better outcomes. On the other hand, delays in filing can worsen the severity of the loss.
Common incidents that can occur at a self-storage property include natural disasters, collisions, acts of mischief, and negligence. Natural disasters, such as wind, hail, and fire, can cause significant damage to the property. Collisions involving vehicles can also result in structural and mechanical damage. Acts of mischief, such as burglary and theft, are also frequent causes of property loss at self-storage facilities. Negligence, both in terms of business operations and tenant goods, can lead to injuries and lawsuits.
After an incident occurs, it is crucial to file a claim with your insurance provider as soon as possible. Timely reporting can help mitigate the severity of the loss and ensure a more accurate investigation. Before filing a claim, it is important to take certain steps to preserve the scene and gather evidence. This may include notifying the police if a law has been broken, writing a detailed description of the incident, taking photos or videos of the scene, protecting the property from further harm, providing an inventory of damaged and undamaged property, and keeping records of expenses for emergency repairs.
Filing a claim should be done in accordance with the procedures outlined by your insurance carrier. It is important to have all the necessary information readily available and to confirm the proper protocol with your broker, agent, or carrier representative. Some policies may provide specific instructions on how to file a claim. Creating a standardized incident report and procedure for all staff members to use can help improve the speed and accuracy of the claim process.
In certain situations, you may receive a summons and complaint, which is a formal legal document indicating that a lawsuit has been filed against you. It is critical to inform your insurance adjuster about the S&C and provide a copy as soon as possible to avoid any legal complications.
While unexpected events will inevitably occur at self-storage facilities, being prepared and knowing how to file an insurance claim is essential. Ensure that all staff members are familiar with the types of losses that can occur and how to complete an incident report. Remember, timely reporting improves the claim investigation process and can lead to better outcomes.
Louie Gonzalez is a service specialist with Universal Insurance Programs, a company specializing in insurance coverage for the self-storage industry. With over 20 years of experience, Gonzalez facilitates claims between clients, carriers, adjusters, and underwriters. He emphasizes the importance of timely reporting and accurate documentation in the claims process.