We receive calls on a daily basis from our clients who say “We had an accident! Now what?”. This is generally a HIGHLY stressful time, and an incredibly important time in which you can take steps to protect or further expose yourself.
Our first recommendation is to take a deep breath, try to relax, and focus on the task at hand. You cannot “turn back time” and prevent this particular accident from happening. You cannot wish it away. You cannot sleep it away. You cannot hope that it’ll simply go away, it won’t. So, what do you need to do to protect yourself from this point forward?
To begin, you need to take immediate steps to care for persons (your employees, clients, members of the public) and property that has been impacted. Use common sense, initiate first aid, call the fire department, call the police, call an ambulance, remove undamaged property from a building in jeopardy of becoming damaged, etc. The next step is to gather all available information on the accident, who/what was involved, what allegedly occurred, who was allegedly at fault, were there corroborating witnesses, police reports, etc. Your ability to IMMEDIATELY gather this information is one of the most critical aspects of building a successful defense. We have accident investigation worksheets for a variety of incidents that will help direct your assessment and data gathering during this critical time. Please reach out to us promptly and begin the accident/incident investigation and documentation.
The next step is to work with us to evaluate the applicable commercial insurance policies that may respond to your accident, and for us to coordinate a timely report to the applicable insurance company(ies). All insurance contracts have a Conditions Section, whereby your (the Insured’s) activities are specifically spelled out, including the notification requirements when an accident or incident that has occurred and/or is likely to give rise to a claim. While each individual contract and insurance company will differ slightly, most require notification “promptly” or “as soon as practicable” or “upon written notice of demand”. The challenge is defining these timelines, as “promptly” to one person may be within 12 hours and “promptly” to the next person may be within 10 business days; dramatically differing timeline interpretations of the same word. When in doubt, simply reach out to your Sovereign representative and seek clarification. We will review the applicable circumstance in conjunction with your commercial insurance program and coordinate accordingly.
You spend a lot of hard earned monies on your commercial insurance program. It’s there to protect you, but, there are critical post-accident steps you must take to protect yourself AND be compliant with the terms and conditions of the applicable commercial insurance policy(ies).
We look forward to helping you navigate these important steps! Please reach out to your Sovereign representative for more details and/or specific preparedness planning that can be put into place now. As always, thank you for entrusting your business and insurance needs to Sovereign Risk Solutions!
Author: John Varner