Every year, about 1 out of every 20 homeowners need to make a claim on their homeowner’s insurance. Out of those, 1 out of every 40 is from related storm damage.
When you bought your home, you expected it to be your safe haven. Of course, you carry homeowner’s insurance to protect your home in the event of a disaster, but nobody really expects it to happen to their house.
So, what happens when a tree branch falls on your roof? Or your home has a fire? Or your home is broken into and suffers vandalism?
House repairs become necessary. In some cases, the home repairs are small enough that a claim to the insurance company isn’t worth it. But sometimes, big things go wrong and it’s necessary to make a claim and find a temporary place to live too.
Are you wondering what your insurance company will actually cover beyond the repairs? Will you have to find alternate housing and incur the cost too or does your homeowner’s policy protect you?
Read on to learn more about insurance coverage while your home gets home repairs.
What Is Loss of Use?
Your insurance policy should include some language about the loss of use. Some insurers will also use the term additional living expenses (ALE) insurance.
Additional living expenses coverage helps to pay for the additional costs you might have as a homeowner when you get displaced from your home because your home needs repairs.
Most policies have language for loss of use, but not all. You should check your homeowner’s policy to make sure you have the coverage. Most insurers place a limit on how much coverage you can use for loss of use claims.
It’s typically based on a percentage of the value of your policy coverage. There isn’t an insurance industry standard, it varies from insurer to insurer.
Let’s say the value of your coverage is $400,000 and your insurer has a claim limit for loss of use of 30%. You’d have up to $120,000 in additional living expenses coverage while your home is being repaired.
There are some exceptions though. If your home is damaged in a flood or from a hurricane and you don’t have that type of coverage as part of your policy, it would not be covered.
Alternate Housing Coverage
If you need alternate housing coverage, the insurer is expected to cover housing similar to where you currently live.
You might only have repairs that can be completed short term. Maybe this means you spend a week in the hotel. Don’t assume this means you can check into the fanciest place in town. You want to be sure your insurance approves the expected cost.
What about if the repairs are more significant and require you to be out of your house for a while? The insurance company would need to cover long-term housing that’s similar to your current living conditions. If you live on a lake with four bedrooms, the insurance company can’t put you in a studio apartment, for example.
The insurance company is responsible for the additional living expenses so that you can maintain your current standard of living.
In many cases, this means seeking a rental, paying a security deposit, and rent which your insurer should cover. You may have lost clothing and other household items in the process too. This would also be covered.
If you’re unable to eat in your own home during the time repairs are being completed, then your insurance would cover your meals out too. Remember though, most policies have that cap or limit amount that will cover up to that amount.
What’s Not Covered With Alternate Coverage
Alternate living expenses don’t, however, cover everything. Your insurance company is going to consider what you might normally spend on certain things and then cover the additional amounts.
Let’s say your family normally spends $800 a month on food and groceries. While you’re displaced, your food bill doubles because you can’t cook at home. The insurance company will cover the cost beyond what you would normally pay if you were in your home.
While you might want to stay in some nice accommodations while displaced, be careful. Your insurance company will only approve what’s similar to your current housing. So, don’t go from your small one-bedroom condo and rent a luxury penthouse while displaced, and expect the insurance company to cover it.
It’s always a good idea to find out exactly what they will pay for and know ahead before you commit to alternate housing.
What You Should Do If You Need Alternate Housing
If you need long-term alternate housing, you want your insurance company to spell out what they’ll cover. They are going to expect you to continue to contribute what your normal monthly expenses would be.
They will usually, however. provide some up-front money to cover things like a security deposit for a rental. Be careful to not overcommit to a rental. If your repairs take months less than expected and you signed a longer lease, your insurance company won’t automatically cover those extra months.
They will only be willing to cover the time you are absolutely displaced during repairs. This may require that you also do some negotiating with your rental so you don’t get locked into a longer-term lease than you need or want.
Getting the Help You Need So Your Insurance Company Covers What It Should
You got your homeowner’s insurance coverage so you’d be protected. The truth is, though, that insurance companies aren’t always that willing to pay out what they should. While it’s their role to provide coverage, it’s also their goal to pay out as little as possible.
You may need to fight them to get the coverage you deserve. In many cases, this means hiring an experienced attorney to help with the coverage for your property damage. In some cases, the only way you can get your insurance company to do the right thing is by securing an attorney to work on your behalf.
Insurance Coverage for Your House Repairs
Facing house repairs and being displaced from your home is frustrating and scary. On top of not having the security of your home, you have the worry of repairs and all the costs that come with it.
If you need help getting your insurance company to pay your claims, we can assist you. We are experienced in handling personal property claims with insurers. Contact us today so we can review your case and get started working on your behalf.