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IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A POLICYHOLDER TO SECURE YOUR PROPERTY AND PREVENT IT FROM FURTHER DAMAGE
The Insured's Duties
One important duty that an insurance policy holder is required to do is to protect their property following a loss. This obligation required of the insured is usually labeled in the homeowner’s insurance policy as “Duties after Loss.” These duties include protecting the property from further damage along with determining if any temporary repairs are required to further protect the property until a permanent repair is in place. If temporary repairs are needed, the insured is obligated to perform these repairs. In addition, the insured is required to keep a record of receipts for products they purchased for making repairs.
Mitigating the Loss
The reasoning for this is simple: keep the damage and loss to a minimum and therefore keep the claim cost to a minimum for both the insured and the insurance company. In insurance terms this is called “mitigating the loss.” To mitigate means to lessen the force or intensity of something. So, the insurance company is pretty much asking the insured, to the best of their ability, to try and keep the loss as low as possible until the insurance company can get to the property and get it fixed properly. This seems reasonable and most homeowners would agree that they would like to keep their losses to a minimum too and gladly adhere to their obligation to protect their property following a loss.
Some homeowners do worry about a few things when considering their duty to protect their property following a loss. First of all, homeowners are concerned about getting reimbursed for the cost of supplies required to make reasonable repairs. Yes, the insured will get these costs back. This is why the insured is required to keep a record and receipts of their supply costs. The insurance company will reimburse the homeowner if the supplies were to make reasonable and necessary repairs. The second concern that homeowners often have about this obligation is if they cause more damage by making reasonable repairs. Again, a homeowner does not have to worry about this. As long as the homeowner tries in good faith to make any necessary and reasonable repairs, the insurance company will reimburse them for their supplies and fix the property back to how it was regardless of any accidents the homeowner may cause by trying to make repairs.
Necessary and Reasonable Repairs
So, what are considered necessary and reasonable repairs? Say a tree falls on the roof of a house. The reasonable thing to do would be to take a tarp and cover the exposed area of the roof to prevent further damage from outside elements. Another example would be a water leak. Take for instance a burst water pipe. The reasonable think to do would be to turn off the main water supply to stop the water from preventing further damage. If one is not sure, they should ask their insurance agent or company when they call to make their claim. The insurance company should be able to give the insured a good list of things they can do to adhere to their obligation to protecting their property.