In the restoration industry, the term mitigation is one of the most commonly used words. Sometimes I get so caught up in our daily lingo, that I forget that not everyone speaks our language! I was reminded of this last week. I was speaking with a customer and explaining to him that he had a responsibility to mitigate his water damages. His response, “I don’t really understand this whole mitigation thing.”
What Does Mitigation Mean? (Mitigation Defined)
Merriam-Webster defines mitigation as; “to cause to become less harsh or hostile” or “to make less severe or painful”. While cleaning up water damage quickly will make the process less painful, we think of mitigation in a slightly different way. If the Restoration Industry had a bible, the IICRC S500 would be like the book of Genesis. This document, entitled Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, forms the basis for nearly all water damage restoration activities. It defines mitigation as “Measures take to reduce adverse effects on the environment” and “’Reasonable and Prudent’ steps taken under the terms of an insurance policy to limit loss”. This second definition is the one we are primarily concerned with, when providing service to property owners in need.
Don’t Fail to Mitigate
Many insurance policies require policy holders to mitigate damage in order to limit loss. It is because of this clause that proper mitigation is an essential element to any property insurance claim. Failure to mitigate can lead to reduced coverage or possibly no coverage at all. Many homeowners fall into the trap of waiting until the insurance company tells them what to do before starting mitigation. This delay can often lead to uncovered secondary damage.
Avoid Secondary Damage
One common example of failing to mitigate is inadequate or delayed structural drying in the event of a water intrusion. This can lead to very common and often non-covered secondary damage; Mold. By now, everyone has heard of a mold horror story. In one frightening instance, I think a moldy wall tried to reach out and grab me (I’m pretty sure it was just a mushroom, but I’m not a big fan of those either)! One of the biggest truths about mold is that it takes time to grow. By responding quickly and utilizing professional structural drying services, you stand a great chance of avoiding destructive mold growth and all of the headaches that go along with it. There are hundreds of examples of secondary damage that can result from poor mitigation; rain through an un-tarped roof, corrosion due to smoke or soot damage, and stolen items due to unsecured property are just a few examples.
Anytime you are dealing with property damage, time is of the essence. It’s important to understand that it’s your property, your insurance policy and your duty to act quickly and responsibly. The bottom line is that proper mitigation protects you. When protecting your property is important to you, contact a restoration professional for quality advice and service.