After reporting a claim for property damage to their insurer, the insured must fulfill certain post-loss obligations under their policy. Among others, an insured is required to show all damaged property to their insurer and allow the insurer to inspect the damaged property. The reason for this is that the insurance company will be unable to adjust an insured’s loss and make a coverage determination unless it is able to observe and inspect the claimed damage resulting from the loss.
In a recent decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, the court compelled the insurance company to enter into appraisal with an insured homeowner because the homeowner had “sufficiently complied” with all of their post-loss obligations under the policy. One of the determinative obligations performed by the insureds in that case was that the insureds had shown their damaged property and allowed the insurance company to inspect.
Showing the damaged property does not necessarily mean that you must preserve the damaged property for the insurance company to personally observe and inspect. Of course, if during a hurricane a large tree falls through your roof and is sitting on top of your favorite living room recliner, you can and should take the appropriate steps to remove the tree.
In other circumstances, such as where an insured sustains damages to their property’s windows, doors, flooring, and/or plumbing, the insurance policy imposes an obligation to mitigate the damage, requiring the insured to clean up and/or remove, or replace damaged items and objects so as to prevent further damage to the property. In those instances where damaged property cannot be preserved prior to the insurance company’s inspection, taking a photograph or video evidence of the damaged property may be sufficient to show the insurance company the damaged property. If possible, an insured should always attempt to maintain possession of any damaged property (e.g., damaged pipes) and not discard it prior to the insurance company’s inspection.