One of the reasons you have homeowners insurance is to avoid paying out of pocket for extensive property damage. Another reason you’re paying for homeowners insurance is to have an attorney on retainer to defend you should you be sued if someone gets hurt on your property.
I would like to share a story about how a client dealt with fraud related to a customer claiming she was injured at the client’s shop. This is one of my business clients, but my homeowners insurance clients could learn a lesson from how she handled the situation.
A tale of a fraudulent claim
My client owns a beautiful gift shop. She had a customer who came into her store and was looking around briefly, then left. Moments later, this customer came back into the store and told my client she had tripped on a loose garden hose on the steps outside the store.
My client, a very smart, savvy person, first inquired what injuries were sustained and if immediate medical attention was warranted. She because suspicious with the answers she was getting and decided to do a little investigating.
Luckily there was a painter working outside of the store who said the only thing he witnessed was the woman exclaiming, “I’ve just fallen!” The painter said he then saw her go to the nail salon across the street after leaving the store. My client asked the painter to provide a statement.
My client then asked about the woman’s behavior at the nail salon. The employees there said the woman did not look injured and their cameras could show her behavior after the alleged fall.
This potentially costly insurance claim had a happy ending for my client; she presented her research to the woman who was claiming injury, and that woman was never heard from again. My belief is that my client did enough research to prove to the other woman that any claim would be scrutinized.
What to do if someone is injured on your property
When someone is injured on your property, whether it is due to a rug, loose steps, cracks on the sidewalk, or nasty weather conditions, you are obligated to address the injury and possible insurance claim right away.
If someone is injured at your home or business, it can be a delicate situation. I think my client handled her situation very well. First, you need to assess the extent of the injuries and determine if emergency care should be dispatched. If not, and depending on your relationship with the injured person, you should consider contacting the police so both parties can make statements.
If possible, photos should be taken of the injuries. You should also take pictures of the area where the injury occurred to show the condition of the property.
If the injured party is merely looking for reimbursement of medical costs, it could be a far better scenario than if the injured party decides to sue you or claim damages beyond what your insurance policy covers.
As always, call your insurance agent to discuss the situation and get guidance on how to handle it. An agent can help you much better if he or she knows about any injuries or potential claims right when they happen.
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