The Insurance Council of New Zealand advise people who have uninhabitable homes due to flood damage to contact their insurer directly for help with temporary accommodation. Most home policies as well as contents policies provide cover for temporary accommodation.  Each policy wording will differ so people should check with their insurer. Tim Grafton, Insurance Council Chief Executive said “people that are renting and only have contents insurance may not be aware that they probably will also have cover for temporary accommodation”.

Key points from Home policies:

  • Contact your insurer first – they must agree
  • The home needs to be uninhabitable due to loss
  • Covers you and your domestic pets
  • The choice of temporary accommodation needs to be reasonable i.e. a similar standard to your existing house
  • It doesn’t cover additional costs such as travel, letting fees, utilities, meals, phone, internet
  • You are covered, even if the damage to house is under $100k EQC cap
  • Limit of cover will be to a dollar value – each policy is different, so check
  • Some insurers will pay you direct and others you’ll get reimbursed –  discuss with your insurer
  • Some policies will also cover you where your home is otherwise safe and sanitary, but you are prevented from accessing it by order or direction of government or local authorities
  • Reasonable moving or storage costs are covered

To decide what counts as uninhabitable, insurers will assess on a case by case basis and are likely to ask questions such as:

  • Is the home safe and structurally stable?
  • Has a Government/Local Authority issued instructions for you to vacate the home?
  • Is the home secure against theft and outside elements (e.g. watertight?)
  • Can the kitchen and bathroom be used?
  • Can people sleep in the home?
  • Is there water? Electricity?

Key points from Contents policies

  • If you are renting and only have Contents insurance, check with your insurer as most insurers will cover your temporary accommodation
  • The alternative accommodation benefit will likely still require you to contribute your normal rent towards the cost
  • Damage may need to be caused to your contents to be eligible for the temporary accommodation benefit
  • Insurers will also pay for the temporary storage of your contents – including removal and returns.

Reasonable costs of emergency evacuation is also often covered in home and contents policies if the evacuation is due to safety concerns or other emergency and the police or a local authority has advised against you living in your house or you are unable to access your home.  This cover needs to be agreed in advance with your insurer. Residential body corporates should contact their insurance broker, if they have one, or their insurance company directly.

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