If an unexpected event occurs and leaves your home uninhabitable, are you insured to deal with the circumstances?
Find out where you stand, should you find yourself unable to use your home as the result of a flood or another disaster.
What is alternative accommodation insurance?
Alternative accommodation cover is a part of your home insurance policy. It comes into play if your property becomes uninhabitable as a result of:
It means your home insurance provider should help find you alternative accommodation. The policy should also pay the costs so you're not left homeless while the problem is sorted out.
Many home insurance policies include alternative accommodation cover as standard, but in other cases you might need to have it added separately.
Make sure you know what you’re covered for – and check the limits, too. After all, if the worst happens, you might need alternative accommodation for a lengthy period of time.
If you live in a high-risk area, such as near a flood plain or on the coast, you might have to pay a little more for alternative accommodation insurance. But not having it at all could be a false economy.
If you own properties that you rent out to tenants, it could be worth checking if your landlord insurance policy covers alternative accommodation.
Depending on what contract you have with your tenants, you may be required to provide alternative living arrangements in the event of an emergency. So without an insurance policy, it could be costly.
What does alternative accommodation insurance cover?
Policies differ in terms of exactly what expenses are covered and the amount you're covered for.
As a general guide, though, if you're offered alternative accommodation cover, it should be for a like-for-like property.
If the costs of living there are more expensive than your normal living costs, you should be reimbursed the difference.
If your home is still habitable but you don't have access to a fully-functioning kitchen, some insurers could reimburse you for eating out or having a takeaway.
You shouldn't be left out of pocket with property repairs, either.
Your insurer should provide guidance on finding professionals, such as builders, to undertake any required work.
If not, they should provide their own network of frequently used tradespeople to complete the repairs.
When can I claim for alternative accommodation?
If your house has been damaged structurally by a storm or as the result of fire, flood or similar disaster, you could make a claim on your home insurance. Here’s what might happen if you decide to make a claim:
A loss adjuster might be sent to your home to look at the damage and the effect it’s had on your living conditions.
They'll have a thorough look at the property and report back their findings to your insurer.
If they decide your house is uninhabitable and you need to move out until any necessary work has been completed, they should process your claim.
If your home still has all the essentials in place, the adjuster might suggest it's fine for you to continue living there.
Repairs can be upsetting and disruptive to your routine. But it might be less upheaval for you and your family to stay in the property if the repairs aren’t going to take too long.
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What are defined as uninhabitable conditions?
Uninhabitable conditions usually means that the home is either structurally damaged or it's lacking the essentials needed for daily living, such as:
- Running water
- Heating (especially in the winter)
- Sanitary facilities, such as toilets, showers or baths.
If you're unsure of exactly how your policy provider defines uninhabitable conditions check the small print of your policy. Definitions can vary between home insurance companies.
What is an example of alternative accommodation?
A home insurance policy that includes alternative accommodation cover works on the basis that you’ll be provided with like-for-like accommodation.
So, for example, if you live in a three-bedroom, semi-detached house, your insurer should try to ensure you're rehoused in a similar three-bedroom property nearby.
Your insurance policy should enable you to get on with your daily life and minimise the effects of any disruption.
For families, this includes being able to:
- Continue to get children to school in the morning
- Continue commuting to work
- Carry on being involved in any other regular activities you do
- Depending on the emergency you face, you might have to be a little more flexible.
For example, if your entire neighbourhood is flooded, you might find yourself given alternative accommodation a little further away than you would choose.
However, any extra commuting and transport costs should be covered under your policy.
Does my landlord have to provide alternative accommodation?
It depends on your rental agreement. If the home you rent becomes uninhabitable, you shouldn’t have to pay rent. But don’t assume your private landlord will have to put you up somewhere in the meantime.
If you're a council tenant, you should be provided with somewhere else to stay by your local authority.
Will my pets be included in alternative accommodation cover?
You might find that you can take your pets with you to your alternative accommodation.
But if you can’t do that, your policy might cover the cost of putting pets into kennels or catteries while your home is being repaired.
It will depend on your policy, so if you have pets it’s worth checking the details with your insurer.
What else should I consider about alternative home accommodation cover?
As with all insurance policies, the devil is in the detail. There are some basics, though.
Your insurer will likely need to approve your alternative accommodation, so make sure you keep in touch with them. If you don’t, you run the risk that the insurance company could reject your claim.
Think about your possessions too. Storing them could be expensive. So, make sure you know what your policy will cover if you have to store your possessions while anydamage is being put right.