Hurricanes can be scary–and, for some of you, homeowners policy documents might look even scarier! What happens AFTER a hurricane? What’s covered under your policy? When are you NOT covered?
In the event of temporary or permanent relocation due to damages inflicted by a hurricane, you may be entitled to Additional Living Expense coverage. However, insurance companies only grant this type of coverage in certain situations. The inflicted damages must be covered damages, such as wind damage, and the home must be inhabitable. From there, your insurance company will determine the minimum amount of time required to repair or replace the damaged property, as well as the amount of funds necessary for your household to maintain a normal standard of living.
The items that fall under Additional Living Expense coverage include, but may not be limited to:
- Increased housing costs (ex. staying in a hotel, renting a property)
- Furniture rentals for a temporary residence
- Increased cost to board pets
- Increased meal expenses from having to eat out
Note: Be sure to keep your receipts! In order to take advantage of this coverage in the event of hurricane damage, you will be need to show documentation for the amounts being claimed.
So, in what situations could YOU be covered?
Am I covered if…
- I went somewhere to wait out the storm? No, unless damage from a covered cause of loss was the reason for evacuating your home.
- I went somewhere to wait out the storm, and returned to find my home damaged and uninhabitable? Yes, from the time your home sustained damages (covered under a homeowners policy) that made it uninhabitable, additional living expense is covered.
- I am under mandatory evacuation, even though there is no damage in the area? No, unless damage to neighboring areas was the reason for mandatory evacuation.
- I am not allowed to return home due to damage in neighboring areas? Yes, if civil authority prohibits access to your home due to the conditions of surrounding areas, you will be covered up to a maximum of two weeks.
- I have no power or water because to outages due to the hurricane? No, there must be direct damage to your home to be covered.
- the food in my refrigerator and freezer spoil due to loss of power? No, as this is considered an “indirect damage.” Only direct damages to contents will result in coverage.
- my trees and plants are affected by the storm? No.
- I need to remove debris of downed trees from my property? It depends. If a tree falls in the yard, it must either inflict damage on a covered structure or restrict access to the property for removal to be a covered expense.
- there is flood damage? No, damage caused by flooding is specifically excluded from a homeowners policy. You must have a flood carrier to be covered in the case of damage caused by flooding.
As a final reminder, all hurricane claims will be unique, and there is no way to determine exactly how much coverage you’ll receive in the event of damage to your property. If there is a loss due to a hurricane, notify your insurance company immediately, and an adjuster will work with you on the unique circumstances of the loss. In the meantime, if you live on or near the coast, become familiar with your policy’s coverage limits in the event of a hurricane. Taking the time to understand this crucial part of your homeowners policy may offer some peace of mind in the unfortunate event of a hurricane or wind-related weather condition.