Everyone who lives in South Florida, or any other hurricane-prone location, recognizes the blue tarp as a symbol of devastation.  However, the failure to place a tarp on your roof or otherwise protect your property from further damage may create a basis for denying or limiting your insurance claim.

As we outlined in last week’s discussion regarding the obligation to provide prompt notice, all property insurance policies impose responsibilities on an insured in the event of a loss.  In addition to providing notice of a claim, you are responsible for making reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your property from further damage.  This obligation is known as mitigating your damages.

Ultimately, in the event of a loss, you should do your best to protect your property from further damage.  If you do undertake any immediate efforts to protect your property, you should photograph and document the condition of the property prior to making any repairs. Also, keep a record of all receipts as most policies require you to keep an accurate record of your expenses.

Protecting your property or mitigating your damages after a loss may be as simple as securing a tarp on your roof or placing duct tape on a cracked window to prevent further water intrusion. However simple these steps may be, it is important that you take these steps to preserve your right to recovery from the insurance company in the event of a loss.

Making efforts to protect your property is generally good practice in the event of a loss; however, you also have an obligation to show the insurance company the damages.   These two obligations unfortunately are sometimes competing concepts and it is always recommended that you read your policy to familiarize yourself with the policy’s obligations.