Ernie Schaefer, President, RSS Insurance Services

Colorado has experienced many weather-related catastrophic losses in the past and will see more in the future. Hail, wind and wildfire top the list. A businessowner can minimize the financial impact and stress caused by such a disaster with a simple insurance plan. The plan should consider what to do before, during and after the event. This plan can be updated annually, and hopefully, not used.


Know what is covered by the insurance policy. Depending on the business it should be buildings, business personal property, crop, and business income. Avoid claim adjustment difficulties and penalties by making sure the values and limits are adequate. Most policies have an 80% or 90% coinsurance clause.

Know how the property is covered. Replacement cost is replacing the property with like kind and quality property less deductible. ACV (actual cash value) allows depreciation. The amount of depreciation depends on the age and condition of the property. Then the deductible is applied.

Know what your deductibles are. Many policies have a separate wind/hail deductible. These are often percentage deductibles. Percentage deductibles range from 2% to 10%. This percentage is applied to the policy limit on the property and deducted from any settlement.

Documentation of losses is very helpful to an insurance adjuster. It allows for a more expedited and less disputed claim process. Inventories of personal property, equipment and crops are useful.

If business income is involved, the owner should make an estimate of the loss of revenue until operations are restored. A contingency plan for temporary operations will reduce the loss of revenue and is often covered by the extra expense feature in the business income.

Know how to submit a claim. Most insurance companies have a dedicated toll-free claim phone number that is found with the policy documents. It is generally staffed 24/7. Ask your agent for the most efficient way to submit a claim to a particular company.


Be safe and keep your employees safe. Don’t make the loss worse with injuries.

Protect property if it is possible and safe to do so.


Immediately file a claim. In a weather disaster, a lot of claims will be filed. Document the damaged property and anticipated loss of income. Use the documentation you have prepared to assist in your claim submission.

There is much more to do in the “before” section. If the plan is prepared, the “after” activities are minimal and far more efficient.

Nothing can eliminate the pain and stress of a major loss. However, having a specific plan to follow will minimize the aftermath.

About the contributor: Ernie Schaefer has been in the insurance business for 49 years. Before acquiring RSS Insurance Services in 1995, he was Regional Vice President of the Hartford. In 2015, he transferred ownership of RSS to Aaron and Sara Hoffman, and remained active with the agency. RSS Insurance Services was founded in 1967 in Westminster, Colo., and has been working with greenhouses and garden centers since 1994. The agency has a staff of 22 and provides commercial insurance, personal insurance, health insurance, and employee benefits.