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What does it mean to mitigate your damages?

What happens when disaster strikes? Whether the big oak tree in your front yard has fallen due to heavy winds, or you have water damage caused by a broken pipe, it’s important to know what your next steps should be to ensure the damages will be covered by your insurance policy.

But what happens if that first loss puts you at risk for further damage? What if that water damage was left untreated and seeped into the floors and walls – causing mold, rust, bacteria and toxins to build up? Who is responsible for covering the secondary loss?

A condition in almost every insurance policy is that the insured must mitigate the loss to prevent further damages. Meaning it is your responsibility as the insured to take reasonable action to avoid secondary damages, or at least to reduce them. Failure to do so may leave you uncovered for the secondary damages that resulted from the initial loss.

Simply put, mitigating your damages means you can’t sit back and watch further losses occur to your personal property after the initial loss has occurred. It is your duty to take reasonable protective measures to prevent further harm or loss.

Consider again the example of the water damage caused by the broken pipe. It would be the responsibility of the insured to act quickly to remove the water in order to reduce further loss. Whether that action is purchasing a portable wet vacuum to extract the water, or a dehumidifier to remove existing moisture, you must take action to avoid compounded damages. In many cases, your insurance company will reimburse you for the expenses you took to mitigate these damages – such as the cost of the vacuum or the dehumidifier.

In any event, when faced with disaster it is always best to contact your insurer first. They will often appoint a reputable contractor skilled in disaster recovery immediately, to assist with the mitigation.

If you have any questions about mitigating damages please contact your OTIP Insurance Broker at 1-888-892-4935

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