If your home suffers unexpected damage and becomes uninhabitable, will your insurance cover the cost of living somewhere else while repairs are carried out? It is important to check your policy to ensure you are comfortable with the cover that you’re being provided with.
In This Guide:
- What is alternative accommodation cover?
- For what reasons can I claim alternative accommodation cover?
- What types of alternative accommodation can I be offered?
- What would happen to my pets and belongings?
- How much will I be covered for?
- As a landlord, what do I need to think about?
- Are there any other things I should consider about alternative accommodation cover?
- Does all home insurance come with alternative accommodation cover?
What is alternative accommodation cover?
When your home becomes uninhabitable (perhaps because of a flood or fire) and you’re insured to cover the event, your insurance provider should pay the costs for you to stay somewhere else while your home is being prepared.
Most building and contents insurance policies include this, but you should always check the T’s and C’s to be sure. You should also check whether any limits apply. For example, there’s normally a maximum amount that you can claim, so ensure that you’re comfortable with the cover that you’re being offered.
For what reasons can I claim alternative accommodation cover?
The amount of cover you’ll get for different circumstances will vary between insurance companies, and also depends on the level and type of policy that you have.
You can claim for alternative cover if any of the following happens to your home:
- Structural damage from fire, smoke, flood, or a storm
- Burst pipes and severe leaks
However, different insurance providers have their own definitions of ‘uninhabitable’. In most cases, it should cover loss of:
- Toilets or bathrooms
- Heating, especially during winter.
- Sleeping facilities
- Structural damage which means the property is unsafe to inhabit.
Before you can use your alternative accommodation cover, an independent loss adjuster will come to your home to assess the damage, and impact it’s had on your living conditions. They will then report their findings back to your insurer.
If they then decide your house is uninhabitable, your claim will continue to be processed. If your home still has all the things above in place, the adjuster might suggest that you can carry on living there. Though it can be upsetting and disruptive to have repairs going on while you’re in the house, it can mean less upheaval for you and your family to stay put.
What types of alternative accommodation can I be offered?
You should be provided with ‘reasonable’ accommodation. This means that you should be offered somewhere to stay that will let you carry on life as normal, for example not stopping you from getting to work, or taking part in your normal leisure activities. The accommodation should also be suitable for your family size. For example, if you have three children, you shouldn’t be expected to stay in a one-bedroom house.
The accommodation that you’d be offered would depend on the circumstances of your claim. If you will only need to stay somewhere else for a few days or weeks, you could be put in a hotel or B&B, whereas if you’ll need to be somewhere else for several months, you’d more likely be offered a rental property. However, if a suitable property that’s similar to your own isn’t available right away, your insurer might suggest that they book you into a hotel instead.
What would happen to my pets and belongings?
If animals aren’t allowed in your temporary home, your insurer might pay for kennel or cattery fees. Some insurers may also cover storage costs for your belongings. However, if these things are important to you, then you should check your policy as cover varies from insurer to insurer.
Alternative accommodation cover normally comes under your building insurance, which will not cover any damage caused to your belongings, therefore you should make sure that you are covered for this under your contents insurance.
How much will I be covered for?
Again, policies do vary, but you could expect a cover of about 20% of the cost insured towards the cost of alternative accommodation. Your insurer should also provide advice on finding professionals to undertake repairs, or they’ll provide tradesmen from their own network that they frequently use.
If your home is still habitable but your kitchen isn’t fully-functioning, some insurers will reimburse you for having to eat out or get takeaways until your kitchen is repaired.
As a landlord, what do I need to think about?
Whether you let out property on a short-term, long-term, or holiday home basis, if your tenancy agreement states that you will provide alternative accommodation for your tenants, you should check that your landlord insurance includes this. Without an insurance policy, finding accommodation for your tenants in an emergency could be very expensive.
Are there any other things I should consider about alternative accommodation cover?
It’s important to remember that your insurance provider will have to approve or even choose the accommodation that you’ll be staying in, and even the tradespeople to repair your property.
Moving out of your home and into accommodation or carrying out works without telling your insurer could invalidate your claim.
Under some policies, there is a time limit where payment will cease, so you need to check what this limit is (if your policy even has one).
Does all home insurance come with alternative accommodation cover?
Most buildings insurance policies will include alternative accommodation cover, but it's a good idea to double check before you sign up to any policy. As we've said, the level of cover can vary between policies as well, so you want to find one that will provide you with accomodation you're happy with if you need it.