Making an Insurance Claim: What You Need to Know

making an insurance claim is illustrated by two people's hands signing a document

You might not have had experience with making an insurance claim in the past so you’re nervous about your first time. Or, you may’ve made one so long ago that you’re uncertain of the best steps forward these days. We get it. We’re here to help.

When you have to make a claim from your professional indemnity insurance or general liability insurance, it’s natural to feel anxious. After all, having a claim made against your business can be very stressful. You may feel that your reputation and finances are at risk after many years of hard work and good service.

If you do find yourself in this unfortunate position, understanding the claims process can make things less stressful. An experienced, customer-centric busines insurer like Rapid Solutions can make the process easier.

When you combine the two, you’ll experience a much smoother path towards claims resolution.

Understanding making an insurance claim: The basics

Having a claim made against you can be a stressful and costly process. Need proof? Read about the real life impact of a termite management claim from a Rapid client. Unfortunately, that’s only one of many client examples we have.

If you are insured (great!), before you even go near making a claim it’s important to have good knowledge of areas such as:

  • Your insurance policy conditions (as a business owner you could have a range of insurance policies, e.g. from liability insurance to workers compensation to stock insurance. Understand which insurance policy would respond to a given incident)
  • Your obligations as the business owner
  • How excess payments work
  • What documentation you’re required to source

Then you move onto understanding the insurance claim process itself. Speak to your insurer before you make the actual claim, read through a few examples on the internet, talk to others who may’ve gone through similar… Get a good feel for what to expect.

When you know the steps you need to take in making a claim, and what outcomes you may be facing, you’ll be in a more confident position. After all, you can’t manage what you can’t make hide nor hair of.

You’ll realise that despite the process often being lengthy and complicated, your insurer is there to help make things easier for you during a stressful time.

With that knowledge under your toolbelt, you can then move on to making the claim.

Your insurance obligations

The first thing to know is you’ll need to have met basic obligations for your insurance claim to be accepted. Based on the information provided during the claim, your insurer will establish your entitlement to indemnity under your policy.

That may sound complicated. All it really means is that your insurer will check you’ve met your policy conditions.

This includes making sure your premium payments are up to date and that your claim falls within your contract period. See here why it’s a bad idea to let your insurance lapse.

Your insurer will also check you’ve taken out cover for the relevant business activity (e.g. termite treatments). That’s why it’s so important to know what is an insurance endorsement and ensure you’re properly covered across all your business activities.

Also, your reporting will need to have met Australian Standards – using a working on the go app like Rapid Inspect will help with this.

Plus, you’ll obviously need to have complied with any other applicable regulations including Federal and State laws including holding the correct licences and qualifications.

Once indemnity is granted, the insurer can commence investigating the claim on your behalf and will request payment of your excess.

How does excess work during the claims process?

During the process of making an insurance claim, you’ll probably have questions about your excess. Your excess is specified within your insurance policy schedule and, essentially, it’s your portion of the risk. The amount can vary depending on your business and its activities. The remaining amount paid out to a claim is the risk your insurer accepts when insuring you.

The excess becomes payable once your insurer has agreed to cover you under your policy. Depending on the claim’s complexity, this might be almost immediately after the claim is lodged. Or, it could take much longer.

Can I handle a claim myself? Or do I have to tell my insurer? What if it’s just a complaint at this stage?

Your policy requires that you notify your insurer of all facts or circumstances that might give rise to a claim as soon as practicable after you become aware of them. Do this in full – provide all the information you can – even if you’re not sure you’ll lodge it as a claim.

These facts might include every detail of work you’ve completed for the customer/claimant. Or of damage that occurred on their property that they’re attributing to your work.

If you’re unsure whether a customer complaint might give rise to a claim, contact your insurer anyway. A simple email outlining the complaint can be noted on your file. If it does escalate, you have peace of mind that you’ve made the notification and met your policy obligations.

However, you are also obligated to handle a customer complaint or dispute yourself – rather than a claim. Here are our tips for managing customer complaints, to help you through.

What do I need to provide in the event of an insurance claim?

If a claim is to be lodged, the insurer will ask you for information and supporting evidence. This includes documentation such as your licensing and qualifications, written reports, photographs, job sheets, correspondence with the claimant, site notes, agreements and invoices.

The more information you can provide at the outset, the better position the insurer is in to understand the facts and circumstances of the claim and, importantly, your potential liability.

How long does making an insurance claim take from start to finish?

It’s impossible to say how long the process will take when making an insurance claim and having it processed. This is because the circumstances can vary substantially from claim to claim.

Insurers have an obligation to you to handle your claim as efficiently and effectively as possible and in utmost good faith. They’ll do their best to finalise your claim as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once all documentary evidence is received, of course.

However, this doesn’t always mean that a claim can be wrapped up within a few days or weeks. If a claim is complex, high value, or requires litigation, it can take many months or even years to reach a conclusion. This is often true of professional indemnity and liability claims, which tend to be more complex in nature.

What to do if you still have questions about the claims process

If you’re not confident you understand your policy and what’s required when making an insurance claim, ask your insurer! We’re there to hold your hand in times of need, helping you safeguard your business. And when it comes to claims, knowledge is power.

Making an insurance claim with Rapid Solutions

Making an insurance claim for the first time? Visit our claims page for more information or to get the claims process started.