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Submitting a claim

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A qualified insurance representative can guide you through the process of turning in a claim. Maura Paternoster, risk manager for ARA Insurance Services, offers a primer on the measures rental companies should take when submitting a claim to their insurance company.

Don’t move the equipment, if at all possible. If you must move it, take as many photos as possible from as many angles in the position you found it, and then move it.

Don’t throw anything away. You’re going to be making a claim for the damaged equipment so you can replace it. Also: In a very serious accident, rental companies need to save the tent as evidence because the other party will want to look at it.

Don’t offer to make payments. Sometimes owners of rental shops will feel so bad about an accident that they want to take out their checkbook, but the insurance policy prohibits policyholders from making voluntary payments because it could jeopardize defense of a liability claim. Let the adjuster handle paying for damages.

Don’t talk to anybody. This is true particularly in the case of a serious injury or fatality. Many times someone will call the rental store claiming to be a reporter, when really it’s someone who’s planning on filing a claim and is trying to gather as much evidence against you as possible. Always refer anybody looking for information to the insurance adjuster or a defense attorney if you already have one assigned.

Cooperate to the best of your ability in an investigation. If the tent involved in the accident is still in good enough shape to set up and see what it looked like, lend your employees to assemble that for the adjusters. If the tent is trashed and you need to recreate the scenario, have your employees set up a similar tent instead. Allow employees to be interviewed by adjusters and attorneys, and promptly get the adjusters and attorneys any copies of rental agreements and other documentation when asked.

Holly O’Dell is a freelance writer based in Pine City, Minn.

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