Your commercial property insurance policy is over 100 pages long. It has endorsements, exclusions, limitations, what-ifs, maybe so's, and probably nots. It is specifically designed to limit the money you would be due in the event of a loss.
We are commercial property insurance experts. And we use this expertise to assist policyholders; not insurance companies.
You will contact your agent who will, in turn, contact the adjuster for your carrier. Your agent will then have no further say in the way the loss is handled.
In many cases, the adjuster will be an independent company that handles multiple claims for your insurance company.
You will start to receive solicitations from roofers, rehab contractors, and public adjusters who want to “help” you with your claim.
In many cases, you will be one of the hundreds of losses that will be handled by the insurance adjuster. These people have quotas to meet and they get paid based on volume. They will send an adjuster who will prepare scopes and estimates oftentimes based on a cursory examination.
The insurance company will offer to settle your claim for the amount their adjuster recommends. You will have very little input in the process. Your offer will be impacted by the type of coverage you have and the exclusions in the policy.
You should have your own scopes and estimates prepared. These scopes should serve as the basis for your claim.
If your scopes do not match the scopes offered by the insurance company your options will depend on the language in your policy.
Most commercial property insurance policies have an appraisal provision. In an appraisal, both sides hire appraisers who will meet to try to determine the amount of the loss. If they are unable to agree, an Umpire may be appointed. The appointment of an Umpire is a critical aspect of the process and should be taken very seriously.
Both appraisers present their evidence to the Umpire. If the Umpire and one of the appraisers agree on the loss, the decision becomes binding.
The appraisal process is only used when the issue involves a determination of the amount of loss.
If the claim is denied altogether or if there is disagreement over the cause of the loss, the appraisal process is not used.
If the appraisal process is not used and you need a lawyer, insurance claims are becoming a highly specialized area of law. I would encourage you to hire a lawyer who understands first party insurance cases.