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Mitigating Losses: Your Obligations Under The Law

Fri Jul 30th, 2021 on     Insurance Claims,    

Most people have heard of loss mitigation but do not understand what it is and how it affects them. In a nutshell, mitigating a loss means that when you suffer some sort of loss, you take appropriate steps to prevent that loss from becoming even greater. When you address mitigating a loss in terms of property insurance, this means that a policyholder has a responsibility under the terms of their insurance policy to take reasonable actions to prevent any additional losses after the initial event of loss occurs. Our Miami property insurance lawyer explains below.  

Examples of How a Property Owner Can Mitigate Loss

Below are some examples of property damage and the reasonable actions that the property owner should take to prevent additional damage. 

  • Pipes Bursting: Should the pipes burst in a home or business, and the owner takes no reasonable steps to stop the water flow, they may not be able to collect from their insurance policy. A reasonable step could include shutting off the water line. 
  • Roof Leaks: If a storm creates a hole in the roof and rain seeps in, reasonable actions to keep damages to a minimum may include placing a tarp over the hole as well as placing a bucket in the home or business to collect any water that seeps through. 
  • Removal of Wet Items: If a property has been damaged by excessive water caused by a storm, a pipe leak, or other causes, the property owner should take appropriate and reasonable steps to remove the water-soaked items before they have a chance to grow mold. Reasonable steps may also include using a portable wet vacuum to remove the excess water. 
  • Professional Services: In cases where the water damage is extensive, efforts made by the owner on their own may not be enough. In situations like this, a reasonable step may include obtaining the services of a professional company that specializes in water damage restoration.  

Expenses Incurred By a Property Owner in Mitigating a Loss

When a property owner fails to take appropriate and reasonable steps to prevent additional loss, whether or not they can collect for the loss from their insurance company depends on the terms of the insurance policy and the jurisdiction in which they live. It is also important that when a property owner does take reasonable actions to mitigate a loss, they keep the receipts for any expenses incurred. If you have any questions regarding coverage for your specific circumstances, those issues are best addressed by a Miami property insurance lawyer who is experienced in these matters.  

A Miami Property Insurance Lawyer Connects Basic Maintenance Issues and Loss Mitigation

A property owner’s responsibility to mitigate loss extends beyond damages that occur in emergencies. There can also be situations that arise regarding basic maintenance where an owner should take action. Examples include:

  • Termites: A termite is a wood-destroying insect that can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of a home or commercial building. Property owners must take the steps necessary to ensure that termite damage does not occur, or if it does, it is kept to a minimum. 
  • Tree Removal: If an owner has a dead tree on their property and takes no action to remove it, should that tree fall and damage their building or the property of someone else, the insurance policy may not cover the loss.
  • Leaks: While property owners may ignore a leak, the truth is that a leak can cause substantial damage over time. 
  • Lint Removal: A homeowner has the responsibility to take basic steps and clean lint filters on their dryer as well as the exhaust duct attached to the clothes dryer. Failure to do so can result in a fire. 
  • Clogged Gutters: A clogged gutter is more than just unsightly. When rainwater cannot properly drain via a gutter, it is often redirected to the side of the home or building, and then it pools at the foundation. This can cause major structural damage, and because it can be prevented, it may not be covered by the owner’s insurance policy.
  • Caulking: While caulking may not seem important, improper caulking (or caulking that has aged) can cause moisture to accumulate, leading to problems with mold and other types of water damage. 

How a Miami Property Insurance Lawyer Can Assist You When Your Claim is Denied Due to Failure to Mitigate Losses

Every policyholder needs to remember that the insurance company’s goal is to deny claims when possible, which often leads to a property claim dispute between parties. Therefore it is not unusual for a claim to be denied for any number of reasons, including a failure to mitigate losses. Even when it is not possible to deny the claim, the insurance company will offer to settle it for as small an amount as possible. When this happens, an experienced insurance attorney can help in the following ways:

  • Reviewing the policy itself to determine the responsibilities of all persons involved and ensure that the policy’s terms do not violate governing laws and regulations. 
  • Explain to a policyholder why their claim was denied and their options for recovery at this point. 
  • Re-submit the claim for coverage of the damages sustained.
  • Notify the insurance company that litigation will pursue if they do not honor the insurance policy and pay for the damages incurred in full. 
  • File a lawsuit to collect the monies that are owed to the property owner.
  • Represent the home or commercial property owner during mediation and litigation, which includes handling all communications with the insurance company and keeping the owner up-to-date on all progress that is made.

Hire an Experienced Miami Property Insurance Lawyer You Can Depend On

When you or your company suffer a loss, and a claim is made under your insurance policy, you need a proficient Miami property insurance lawyer that understands this area of the law and can help guide you through the process. Contact the professionals at Ver Ploeg & Marino and obtain the representation you can depend on.

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