It is very often that we have come across policy holders who do not know what to do when a loss occurs.
Having an Insurance Policy is like owning a gun – you paid for it, you probably feel safe that you have it, but you hope you never need to use it. You rather have it and never need to use it than, need it but do not have it.
The headaches of dealing with vehicular accident, damage/loss to own property, medical claims, or third party (liability) claims can be overwhelming. Hence, it is extremely important to be familiar with what you should do when an incident occurs in order to reduce those headaches as much as possible. We show below some key points to keep in mind when you have to deal with an insurance claim.
What Should You Be Mindful Of?
The insurance claim requirements/conditions vary somewhat depending on the type of insurance policy, but there are some common tips to keep in mind regardless of the exact details of your situation. For starters, you should examine your insurance policy so that you understand your rights and responsibilities, including:-
- Whether or not your policy covers your type of loss;
- Applicable timelines for filing a claim (some policies require a claim to be filed within 24 hours of the incident whilst most policies require a claim to be filed within 7 days of the incident);
- Whether you have multiple types of policies that could cover the same thing (for example, Fire Policy effected by the Bank which grant you home loan in addition to the Fire Policy that you effected with your own agent);
- Whether there is any applicable excess/deductible (if the loss is less than/slightly more than the excess/deductible, it may not be worth pursuing a claim which may raise your insurance premium in the future).
What Should You Do?
When a loss happens (be it property loss, injury, or third-party liability claim), it is always good to take numerous photos of the scene of the accident from various angles and of the damaged property/injury sustained. Look around and retain the contact information for any individuals who witnessed the accident.
It is also strongly suggested that the CCTV footages (preferably from 7 days before the accident to one day after the accident) be retrieved from the digital video recorder and stored on computer, as the retention time of the footage on the cameras are usually very short. This evidence must be preserved first; whether a claim for the loss/accident will be submitted. If there is no CCTV camera installed in your premises, it would be advisable to check your neighbouring premises. Some of them may have it and you can ask for their help.
If the accident happened in a public premise/area i.e. shopping malls, train stations, etc, it is advisable to report it to the personnel on duty (whether they are at fault or not) and request for them to retrieve the CCTV footage. Take down the details i.e. full name, position, contact number, etc of the personnel.
In the event of a loss involving criminal elements i.e. theft, vehicular accident, etc, an official report must be lodged with the authorities i.e. Police, Ministry of Manpower, etc.
As for claims involving health insurance, your health care provider can submit a claim directly to your health insurance company if they provide that service and have your insurance information. If you have to submit a claim yourself, contact your insurance broker/agent and the insurance company for the appropriate forms and submit those along with an itemized bill from your health care provider.
Contacting Your Insurance Broker
It is always good to contact your insurance broker/agent/insurance company as soon as possible when a loss occurs. They will let you know what documents and information you need to submit. Take detailed notes of all correspondence you have with the broker/agent/insurance company, including the names of people with whom you speak to, and keep track of the expenses you incur for your loss or other insurance-related events (such as loss mitigation costs, additional costs incurred arising from the loss, repair/replacement costs, medical expenses, loss of income, loss of profits, etc.).
In addition, you must be honest about your injuries, property damages, and other circumstances. Do not exaggerate your claim. Committing insurance fraud is a serious offence and can invalidate your policy and lead to both civil and criminal consequences. On the other hand, in the event you feel that your insurance company is not honoring its obligations under your policy or could be acting in bad faith, consult an independent party i.e. insurance broker to help protect your rights during the insurance claim process.