by Aneeta Kumar 

Your business insurance policies can be valuable assets now and in the future. To obtain their maximum potential benefits, understand your coverages and maintain your polices so they may be accessed easily should the need arise.

During policy placement or renewals, examine insurance proposals to determine what is being offered. Also, consider having your broker work with coverage counsel to evaluate and negotiate policy provisions to achieve potential enhancements.

Once you receive insurance policies, review them, or have them reviewed, for accuracy. Mistakes sometimes are made, and it will be easier and less costly to address issues at the time of placement rather than after a lawsuit or claim arises.

Try to understand some key aspects of your policies. What are the basic coverages, significant limitations or exclusions, and meaningful coverage enhancements?

Is coverage written on an occurrence, claims-made, or combined basis? Occurrence coverage often is based on when the injury happened or the injury or harm was suffered. Claims-made coverage typically is based on when the injured party makes its claim or files its lawsuit. Such policies often state that the insured must give the insurer certain information within a particular period to be covered.

What are the notice requirements and are there any noteworthy time limitations? Some policies contain suit-limitation clauses that may state that any lawsuit against the insurer must be brought within a specified period of time after the filing of a claim or lawsuit, or the inception of a loss.

Finally, preserve your policies. Occurrence-based policies may provide valuable coverage for claims or lawsuits asserted after the policy has expired. A policy issued years ago may apply to a claim asserted next week, and a policy issued today may apply to a claim asserted years from now. Having copies of policies helps to prove the insurer’s duties and may be the difference between coverage and a coverage dispute.

The better you understand your insurance policies, the more likely you can obtain their maximum benefits.

Aneeta Kumar
Aneeta Kumar is an attorney and partner in Kumar & Gerchick. Her practice focuses on assisting policyholders in obtaining maximum recovery from their insurance carriers for claims and losses, litigation expenses, settlements and judgments. Aneeta also serves on NAWBO-OC’s Board of Directors as Vice President of Community Relations.