- Updated May 24, 2023
You've found the best business insurance and purchased the right coverage to protect your assets from liability risks.
Your business insurance journey is not over.
Did you know that one of the most important things you can do is to keep detailed policy records?
Detailed evidence helps insurers and lawyers build a strong defense against claims, potentially reducing costs associated with defending against a claim. The power of documentation does not end here.
Read this article to learn more about business insurance record keeping and documentation to further protect your company from disaster.
Accurate records support your claims by providing evidence of coverage and policy details. They prevent misunderstandings and disputes with insurance issuers by clearly outlining policy terms and conditions. Managing your policies becomes easier as accurate records help track premium payments, renewals, and modifications. They can also aid in measuring insurance needs.
Requirements vary by issuer, but here are some basic documents you might need when applying for business insurance:
Your business location affects factors such as the risk of natural disasters, crime rates, and other risks. These factors influence the insurance coverage and premiums issuers offer. Make sure you have the addresses for all your business locations and information about their size and construction materials. If you rent your space, include the names and addresses of your landlords.
Regardless of industry, employees always carry some element of risk. Their safety histories can dictate how much you pay for business insurance. Make a list of employee names, addresses, birth dates, and social security numbers. You may also need to provide information about each worker's family members.
Insurance issuers must evaluate all the risks associated with the vehicles, including the drivers' records, usage patterns, and vehicle type to determine appropriate coverage and premiums. Establishing proof of vehicle ownership is essential when submitting your application. Make sure you know the years, makes, models, colors of your vehicles, and vehicle identification numbers.
Driving histories play a significant role in determining your insurance rates. Bring the driving licenses of employees who will be driving company vehicles, along with other necessary driver-related documents. The insurer may also require certifications for operating specialized industrial vehicles.
Insurers use these records to check the legal structure and status of the business, ensuring it exists and operates lawfully. Remember to have your business registration documents, company's certificate of incorporation, and articles of association readily available.
Insurance companies reduce their risks by avoiding entities with bad credit histories. They might request your bank account and credit information from you to make sure you can pay your debts.
The value of your business assets, such as property, equipment, and inventory, can help you figure out what type of coverage you need. Some insurers may ask for a list of your business assets and liabilities before offering insurance. These are usually shown on a balance sheet. It may include specific assets like vehicles and liabilities like pending lawsuits.
These records provide information on the business's proactive measures to identify, evaluate, and address risks. You may need to show insurers your company’s records of safety protocols, training programs, emergency response plans, and risk assessments.
Tracking policy renewals and expiration dates can help you avoid uninterrupted coverage. Tracking expiration dates allows you to evaluate your existing policy and consider alternative options if needed. It allows you to reassess your coverage needs and explore competitive rates. Remaining aware of renewal dates also demonstrates responsible and proactive risk management, instilling confidence in insurers and stakeholders.
Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your insurance policies:
Establish a centralized system for efficient policy tracking with a spreadsheet or digital calendar. This system should include all essential policy information, including renewal dates, expiration dates, and insurer contact details. You can easily access and update them as needed when they are in one accessible place.
Conduct regular reviews of your insurance policies before they expire and incidents occur. Waiting until it is too late could cost your company a fortune.
Use alarm systems, notifications, or email alerts to remind yourself of upcoming policy renewals or expiration dates. Set these reminders to make sure you have enough time to review and take necessary actions.
Reach out to your insurance issuer to confirm renewal terms, address any concerns or questions you may have, and explore the possibility of negotiating rates. Regular communication with your insurer can help you better understand your policy.
How long should you keep certain business insurance documents? It depends on the type of policy. Ideally, you should keep records for as long as you own the policy. Here are a few examples and unofficial guidelines:
It is suggested to keep the paperwork indefinitely. Symptoms or conditions can take an unpredictable amount of time to develop. Regardless of the duration, employees may come back to you to seek coverage for their claims. Ensure that all workers' compensation documents are readily accessible.
Regardless of whether you rent or own your business property, you should have insurance coverage in case of a loss caused by theft, fire, or a natural disaster. Insurance can help cover lost income or higher expenses resulting from damages. You should keep commercial property insurance documentation for at least six years in case you need to file a claim.
Your insurance coverage should always match the current value of your business. If you have added new elements or expanded your operations, your business may face different risks, requiring an update to your policy before it expires to ensure ongoing protection.
Assess how your business has developed over the past year. Even seemingly minor changes can impact your insurance needs. Documenting significant changes will be helpful when discussing renewals or obtaining new coverage with your insurance provider. Some noteworthy occasions include:
Regularly reviewing your insurance policies can help you plan your company’s financial future. It allows you to have the appropriate and comprehensive coverage you need. Dedicate time to reviewing your policies regularly to make necessary adjustments that guarantee full protection.
Not reviewing your policies could cause tragic results. For instance, a manufacturing company neglected regular reviews of its business insurance documentation. As their operations and number of locations grew, they failed to update their insurance policies to match their changing needs.
Tragically, a severe fire broke out at one of their facilities, resulting in extensive damage to the building and machinery. The company filed an insurance claim, but they realized their policy did not sufficiently cover the increased value of their assets and expanded operations. Unfortunately, the company sustained serious financial losses and had to shoulder a major portion of the repair and replacement expenses on its own. These costs severely cut into their profits for that year.
Keeping records of business insurance claims and settlements documents the details of each claim, ensuring accuracy and preventing disputes. Record keeping also ensures compliance with legal requirements. It allows businesses to track the financial impact of claims, assess risks, and make informed decisions about future insurance coverage. The following documentation can go a long way in helping your company deal with a claim:
Taking photos of your business location after an incident is crucial for documenting water, wind, or fire damage. It is important to capture before and after photos to appraise the extent of the damage. You should try to get photos of broken glass or ceiling stains.
In the case of auto accidents, prompt action is essential. Take photos of the accident scene and its surroundings as evidence. If you are unable to do so due to severe injuries, consider asking a witness to help. These photos can provide valuable information for insurance purposes and support your claim.
Having proof of payment can help you get reimbursed quickly. Without a receipt, reimbursement typically can not be provided. Store and provide proper documentation of payment to ensure eligibility for compensation.
You need to compare your inventory and equipment before and after an event to determine what is missing or damaged. You can save time by presenting a detailed list of your possible losses.
Retain all relevant documents if an employee gets injured on the job. This includes appointment letters, scans, x-rays, medical reports, doctors' certificates, and any other supporting evidence. Keeping these documents on file ensures that you have the necessary information to handle the injury case properly and fulfill any legal or insurance requirements that may arise.
Document all correspondence with the insurance adjuster. This includes recording their name, contact details, dates, times, and content of all phone conversations and emails. You can use this information to help resolve any potential disputes or issues that may develop during the insurance claim process.
Your company can enjoy numerous benefits and rewards when your employees have acquired the knowledge and skills to perform their job tasks safely and effectively. Your company should carefully document all training activities and keep records of employees' attendance in completed training opportunities. Documentation proves that training has been conducted. This information could reduce insurance rates since it proves that your company prioritizes safe work environments and efficiency.
In a legal dispute or investigation, training records provide solid proof that your company has taken the required actions to ensure your employees are knowledgeable and follow regulations. This protects your company's reputation, strengthens your defense against accusations of negligence, and reduces legal risk, which could lower your company’s business insurance costs.
Insurance audits evaluate whether or not your company meets all the necessary regulatory and legal obligations. Accurate and current records can establish your company’s compliance with insurance policies and other requirements.
Proper record keeping facilitates replying to inquiries or investigations from auditors and regulators or auditors. Streamlining the process can minimize disruptions to your business and coverage as well as help your company appear credible to insurers and regulators.
Managing your company’s business insurance effectively requires correct and current record keeping. Documentation can protect you just as well as your policy if you need to file a claim. Demonstrate your commitment to mitigating potential legal risks by practicing effective business insurance record keeping today.