If you’ve watched the news lately, it seems the weather has been causing havoc throughout the country. The threat of winter storms with high winds and heavy snow and ice may have you worrying about that tree next to your home that you should have cut down last summer and never did. The chance of that tree becoming a hazard is slim, but for the sake of argument imagine the weight of that snow and ice is just too much for the twenty-year-old oak and, without notice, it comes crashing down in the center of your living room. Now what?
Sometimes people hesitate to start repairs after a loss, fearing that their insurance company will deny payment if an adjuster has not approved those repairs. The truth is, all insurance policies have a section outlining your responsibility in case of a loss. Reading and understanding this section can give you some guidance as to what you should do in a loss situation. This same section generally has some language indicating that you, as a policyholder, have a responsibility to mitigate your damages. Mitigating your damages simply means that when you suffer a loss, you should take reasonable measures to prevent further damage to your property. Your failure to do so may limit coverage (that’s in there, too).
Although the example above may seem extreme, it is actually quite common. In this situation, you should take steps to prevent further damage. The first thing to consider is if the property is secure from further damage by the elements, continued use, or theft. To secure your property, you may have to contact a contractor, a tree removal service, or a company that can assist you in drying the interior of your home in the case of water damage.
As with any loss situation, there is the potential for some out-of-pocket expenses. Generally, your insurance company will reimburse you for those expenses, as long as you can provide documentation. If you are concerned about protecting your property without your insurance company approval, consider taking pictures of the damages. What better way to prove a tree fell on your home than a picture of a tree in the middle of your living room? Thanks to modern technology, most people have access to a digital camera so take multiple pictures from several angles. Finally, contact your insurance company and inform them of the loss.
Suffering a loss can be challenging, but with some preventative actions on your part, you may be able to keep minor repairs from becoming major problems!
For more on tree damage and your insurance coverage, see our blog Tree Damage – Are You Insured?