How to make a claim on your business insurance: An easy step-by-step guide

Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager at Bionic
By Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager

No one wants to ever have to make a business insurance claim. But if you do, you’ll want things to be sorted as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You never know when the unexpected might strike to leave your business unable to trade. It could be something as simple as a power cut that leaves you without electricity for a few hours or flooding that means you have to abandon your business premises completely.

Whatever the reason, knowing how to properly file your business insurance claim can speed up the process and help you get back to business as soon as possible.

What is a business insurance claim?

A business insurance claim is a request for your insurance company to cover the cost of any losses that are covered in your policy.

Business insurance is made up of a number of different policy types, based upon the type of work you do and the risks your business faces. This means there are a number of insurance policies you might need to claim on.

What can you claim for?

Here are some of the policies you might need to claim on as a business owner.

Public liability insurance claims

Public liability insurance covers the cost of claims made by a member of the public who has been injured or had something of theirs damaged while at your workplace. It also covers you for injury or damage you’re at fault for when working at someone else’s premises. Possible reasons for claiming include:

  • You're painting a customer's house and you spill paint on their carpet
  • A customer is burnt when you spill hot tea on them in your café
  • Stock falls from a shelf in your shop and injures a customer

Employers' liability insurance claims

Employers’ liability insurance covers the cost of any claims made by an employee who is injured or has their belongings damaged while working for you. This can either be on your premises or while they’re working somewhere else. You might need to claim in the following instances:

  • An employee trips on a loose kitchen tile an injures themselves
  • You’re an electrician with an apprentice that burns themselves because you’ve not taken out the necessary safety precautions 
  • A faulty ladder your business owns causes an employee to fall and injure themselves while working at a customer’s property

Legal expenses insurance claims

If legal action is brought against your business, legal expenses insurance gives you access to legal advice and help cover legal costs if the case goes to court. It also covers these costs if you take legal action against someone else. Instances when you might claim on legal expenses insurance include:

  • Cases of unfair dismissal or discrimination at work
  • Personal injury claims
  • Damage to business property

Professional indemnity insurance claims

If your business gives advice or offers any sort of professional services – such as accounting or chartered surveying - professional indemnity insurance helps to cover the cost of any compensation you need to pay to your clients. Claims can be made for financial or reputational loss, as in the following circumstances:

  • A customer’s watch is lost or damaged while at your business for repairs
  • You’re an IT contractor that loses or leaks confidential information
  • You give financial advice that causes your client to lose money

Commercial property insurance claims

If you own a non-residential property, commercial property insurance can cover against the cost of damage to your property. It can also protect you from liability for any injuries or accidents that occur on your property, or for loss in revenue during times when you are unable to let your building out. Typical commercial property insurance claims include:

  • Your building is damaged by a gas explosion
  • Flood damage to the building means you can’t rent it out until repairs are made
  • Part of the building collapses and damages cars parked outside

Business interruption insurance claims

Business interruption insurance covers your business for loss of income if your business has to close suddenly and can’t trade due to an unexpected event that’s listed on your policy. You might need to make a business interruption insurance claim in the following circumstances:

  • A gas leak in your road means your business needs to close
  • A flood at your supplier’s premises means your business is without stock it needs to operate
  • A fire in your block means your building is damaged and must close until repairs are made

What are the major areas that can be covered by business insurance?

There are three main areas of business insurance, they are: 

  1. General liability insurance - This type of insurance covers your business against injury to someone else, damage to another person’s property or issues like libel or slander.
  2. Commercial property insurance - This kind of insurance protects your building and any equipment you use to run your business. Be aware that this type of insurance doesn’t cover damage from earthquakes or floods. So, you’ll need additional cover for this.
  3. Business income insurance - As a business, you can use this coverage to help pay for bigger expenses, like rent, utility bills or staff wages. 

How do you make a business insurance claim?

Making an insurance claim can be a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be a long and drawn-out process. Having all the relevant information to hand in case you do ever have to claim really helps, and you need to be aware of the process involved.

Before contacting your insurance provider, remember to have your policy number and other necessary information handy to ensure the claims process goes as smoothly as possible. Make sure you can provide a clear account of the events that have led to your claim and provide as much detail as possible.

And make sure you’re eligible to claim by looking at what’s contained in your business insurance policy documents before contacting your insurer. For example, if your shop has had to close while you deal with a rodent problem, you’ll only be able to claim on your business interruption insurance policy if it includes a clause on animal infestation.

It’s also important that you don’t immediately accept blame or apologise for something as this could be used against you as evidence that you were at fault, making it more difficult for you to make a successful claim.

What's the business insurance claims process?

Here’s what you need to do when making a business insurance claim:

1. Contact your insurance company

You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible, either online or using the claims telephone number listed on your policy documents.

You should also let them know you think you could soon be on the end of a compensation claim. For example, if a customer refuses to pay because they are unhappy with the service or product you’ve provided, you should contact your insurance provider and keep them informed of the situation, even if no formal compensation claims have been started at this stage.

2. Gather any supporting evidence

When you make a claim, your insurer will need to see evidence of the damage you’re claiming for as well as proof of any costs involved.

Take photos of any damage you’re claiming for and gather as much information as possible. For example, if you’ve suffered loss or damage through malicious acts or burglary, you’ll need the date, time, and location of the incident, along with a crime reference number from the police.

In the case of public liability or employers’ liability claims, make sure you inform your insurance provider when there is an injury or accident, even if there is no formal complaint lodged. This will help to ensure that the matter is resolved quickly without the need for further legal action.

Witness statements and CCTV footage can also help when gathering evidence.

3. Fill in the necessary paperwork

When you make a claim, your insurer or broker will usually send out a claim form for you to fill in.

To make sure the claims process can start as soon as possible, it’s important that you complete the forms and get them returned as quickly as you can. If you’re having trouble working out the cost of your claim, ask your insurer or a professional loss assessor for help filling out the form. The team at Bionic may also be able to help.

It's important to make sure you only claim for the correct amount. Claiming for too little can leave you out of pocket, while claiming for too much could see you charged with insurance fraud. If you can’t work out the cost of your claim,

If the forms aren’t filled correctly or the information isn’t right, your claim could be delayed or rejected.

What is the most common business insurance?

The most common type of business insurance is public liability insurance. Although this type of insurance is not required by law, it is strongly recommended for businesses that are dealing with customers or the public on a regular basis.

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance protects your business from any claims made by the public. This kind of insurance will cover costs if a customer has an accident or incident on your premises. Public liability insurance covers the cost of personal injuries and damage to property. It is a vital type of insurance to have as a small business owner.

Does it cost to claim on business insurance?

It’s likely that your policy will come with an amount you need to pay towards the cost of claim before the insurer pays the rest. This is known as your policy excess. Alternatively, your insurer might deduct this excess from the value of your claim.

When you make a claim, you’ll often find that the price of your policy increases when you next renew. This can happen even if you weren’t at fault for the claim. This is why you should always compare business insurance before accepting your current insurer’s renewal offer.

How long will it take to process a business insurance claim?

The length of time your claim takes to process and be paid out depends upon how complex your case is.

If you’re claiming on public liability insurance and there’s doubt over who was at fault, this can delay the process. Claims can also take longer if you don’t give the necessary evidence when asked, or if you incorrectly fill out your claim forms.

When your claim has been settled, you can expect to be paid within five working days, but the length of time this takes will depend upon your insurer and how they settle claims.

What to do if your claim is refused

There are a few reasons why your claim might be refused, including:

  • Your policy doesn’t cover you for the claim you’re making
  • You didn’t correctly follow the claims procedure
  • The information you gave when taking out cover or claiming was incorrect

If your insurer does reject your claim, you should check your policy documents to make sure they were within their rights to do so.

If you think your insurer has unfairly rejected your claim, the first thing you need to do is complain to them directly in writing. Remember to keep copies of any letters or emails along with the dates and times of any phone calls you make.

If the issue isn’t resolved to your satisfaction within in eight weeks, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

How to get the right business insurance with Bionic

Whatever the size or type of your business, Bionic can help you find business insurance that fits.

Our tech-enabled insurance team combine industry know-how with smart technology to help you find the right cover. By talking to you and understanding your business, we will ensure that your policy meets the unique needs of your business and protects it from the specific risks it faces.