Emergency accommodation in home insurance
You can get temporary accommodation in home insurance, but the payout can differ between insurers.
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If your home is damaged by an insured event like a storm or fire and is not safe to stay in, most home insurance policies will pay to house you in temporary accommodation. However, how much they pay you and how long they will pay you can differ between home insurance providers, so it's worth shopping around.
How does home insurance cover me for emergency accommodation?
Sometimes damage to your home and its contents can prevent you from living at your insured address. If your home becomes unlivable as a result of an insured event, a home insurance policy could help pay for temporary accommodation. This generally includes accommodation for you, your family and your pets while your home is being rebuilt or repaired.
The amount you get paid depends on the insurer. For many, the amount you will receive will be based on the weekly rentable value of your home. Others will generally pay you between 1% and 12% of the building's sum insured towards temporary accommodation. Most will pay you for no longer than 12 months.
Some insurers, like youi, have specific coverage tailored to emergency evacuation. It will cover you for reasonably-priced temporary accommodation in relation to an emergency where the relevant local authority has either instructed you to evacuate or prevented you from getting home. The maximum period it will pay for is 30 days.
Which insurers cover emergency accommodation?
The table below outlines the home insurers that cover temporary accommodation and how they cover you.
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What kind of emergencies are eligible for emergency accommodation?
Generally, if your insurer agrees that you cannot safely live in your home because of damage caused by an insured event, then it will pay for emergency accommodation. An insured event can include, but is not limited to:
Bushfires are an ongoing concern for many homeowners in Australia. It's not uncommon for the authorities to order evacuations or prevent you from returning home during bushfire season. However, only youi specifies in its product disclosure statement (PDS) that it will pay your temporary accommodation if you are ordered to evacuate.
How do I claim for emergency accommodation?
You can only receive cover for emergency accommodation once you have made a claim for an insured event, like a fire, and the insurer agrees to pay your claim. At this point, your insurer will inform you of whether or not it will pay for temporary accommodation, provided your home is uninhabitable.
To make a claim then, you would follow the usual process. Visit your insurer's website or call it. Most insurers have an online form or you can claim by mail or email. Complete the form and attach relevant documented evidence of any damage to your home and its contents, showing that it is unfit to live in. Once you've done this, your insurer will need time to process your claim. It may send an assessor to your home to see if it's liveable. If your insurer accepts your claim, it should reimburse you for the time you have spent in temporary accommodation while the claim was being processed.
What kind of accommodation will I be covered for?
In most cases, it should be equivalent to your current accommodation. Many insurers will pay you a percentage of your sum insured (if you don't have total replacement cover) so it's important to ensure that your home is valued correctly. For example, if your home would cost approximately $1,000,000 to rebuild from scratch, but you only have it insured for $600,000, you are likely to receive a much lower standard of accommodation.
If your insurer pays you up to 10% of your home or contents sum insured for temporary accommodation and your home is valued at $1,000,000, then you could receive up to $100,000 for temporary accommodation.
Depending on your circumstances, temporary accommodation may not be available in your immediate area. If this is the case, speak to your insurer about finding suitable accommodation nearby.
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