Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria made for an unprecedented hurricane season last year, and many businesses are still recovering. In the event of another catastrophic hurricane season, businesses need to know in advance how they can get the most out of their insurance policies.

When dealing with insurance claims, time is always of the essence. Most insurance policies have strict rules on reporting the loss within a certain timeframe. Additionally, according to insurance recovery experts from Anderson Kill in New York, many states have strict deadlines on specific actions, such as making covered repairs and notifying the intention to elect replacement cost coverage. A business should also respond to any inquiries by the insurance company for more information as quickly as possible.

While it is important to report quickly, it is also important to understand what your policy covers in advance. Insurance policies generally have covered and uncovered causes of damage. For example, flood or storm surge damage may or may not be covered. Furthermore, insurance may not cover damages due to a mix of covered and uncovered causes. Language is important here: there is no uniform definition of flood between insurance companies, and, depending on the language of the policy, this is could be an advantage to either the policyholder or to the insurance company.

Policies also include deductibles, limits, and sub-limits to potential coverages. Policyholders should review these when preparing to submit a claim, as well as anything that could be covered outside of physical damage, such as contingent business interruption.

Businesses that experience high levels of damages should consider consulting a public adjuster or other claims professional. Adjusters, accountants, and other contractors may be covered under some policies; however, they are usually subject to a sub-limit.

Overall, being proactive is the most important element of successful disaster recovery for a business. Understanding of what your policy covers before the storm followed by prompt notification of damage and meticulous documentation after the storm is vital to getting the most from an insurance policy so that your business can recuperate as quickly as possible.