Getting Paid for Loss of Home Use
Imagine a hurricane blows through your home, making it completely unlivable. When many people purchase homeowner’s insurance, they think about the cost of repairing the home but not some of the other expenses associated with making the repairs. When the house is being rebuilt, where would you stay? Even cheap motels can get very expensive after a few days. Many people cannot afford a motel or temporary apartment. This is why it is important to get adequate loss of use coverage when purchasing homeowner’s insurance. It is even more important when filing a claim to consult with a Hollywood property damage lawyer to maximize your reimbursements.
What is Loss of Use Coverage in Florida?
Loss of use coverage is coverage that pays you for the inconvenience of not being able to use your home when a covered event makes the house temporarily uninhabitable. Many homeowner’s insurance companies already include loss of use coverage in their policies. Typically, the amount is calculated by taking a percentage of your housing costs. However, many insureds can increase that amount by paying a higher fee.
It is important to note that the reason that you have lost the use of your home must be a covered peril that complies with state law. For instance, you will be out of luck if you decline coverage for flood insurance and the house gets flooded. Additionally, if your home burns down because you are conducting illegal activity in the home, the loss of use will not be covered.
Items Covered by Loss of Use
Loss of use coverage will cover temporary housing. But there are other expenses that homeowners may need to deal with besides just their loss of housing. And those expenses may increase due to living in a temporary apartment or motel. Here are just a couple of examples of expenses that may be covered under your policy:
- Increased transportation costs
Home may be close to the office, but a hotel may add many miles to your commute. You would be covered for the difference between what you typically pay for gas and what you pay now.
- Additional food costs
It is significantly cheaper to cook at home. Many motels have limited areas to cook. Dining out can get very pricey.
- Parking costs
In many dwellings, parking a car is free. However, some motels charge for parking a vehicle, especially for multiple days.
- Clothing expenses
In some cases, clothing will be ruined, and the insured will have to purchase new clothing.
- Storage unit costs
If a hurricane tears through a home, leaving some of the possessions intact, the homeowner will have to put those items in storage or fear them being stolen.
- Rental property income
If you were using the property as a landlord and collecting rent, then tenants will no longer be able to safely live at the home. You will be compensated for fair rental value.
- Pet boarding costs
Many hotels will not permit animals to stay there. And even if they do, pet owners cannot leave their pets unattended. Therefore, they will need to board the animal.
What is Not Covered
If you were already paying bills before the loss of use incident occurred, you would still be responsible for paying. Importantly, that means that you will still be responsible for paying the mortgage even though you are not currently living there. Also, bills that have nothing to do with a loss of use will not be covered. If you are paying for a gym membership by your home that is now less convenient to get to, the insurance company will not have to reimburse you.
The other important thing to note is that this coverage is not a blank check for insureds to go overboard. For example, if you currently live in a two-bedroom home with your child, you will not be approved to rent a ten-bedroom mansion. Likewise, while eating out is more expensive, filet mignon at a steak restaurant will not be covered. The insurance company will need to judge whether an expense was necessary. To be sure that an expense will be covered, do not spend more than what you must. Additionally, many policies have dollar limits on what they will cover, and they can provide guidance on appropriate dining and living options. A Hollywood property damage lawyer can also give information about what will be reimbursed.
Filing a Claim for Loss of Use in Florida
Insurance policies can be dense and hard to understand. As a result, many people who experience an event that renders their dwelling uninhabitable do not even realize that they are eligible for compensation from the policy that they have paid for. While some insurance companies are forthcoming about what is covered, others will not inform the insured that their bills will be paid. This is why it is worth contacting a Hollywood property damage attorney.
One thing that you should do as soon as you experience an event causing loss of use is to document everything. Keep every receipt. It is your responsibility to provide documentation to the insurance company about all of the expenses that you incurred. The insurance company will not provide money upfront but will instead reimburse you after the fact.
Another thing to do is to have a record of your ordinary living expenses. The best time to do this is before a loss occurs, as you may have limited access to a computer and your records, and you will have other things to manage. Insurance companies determine what they owe based on your normal expenses, so it is helpful to have those numbers available to help support your claim.
Once you submit the claim, the insurance company then decides whether to pay it. First, they will look at whether the event was covered and whether the expense is covered. The insurance company will also determine whether the dollar amount matches what they think it should cost.
Negotiating with an insurance company is likely the last thing on your mind when you have suffered a loss of property use. Combined with the fact that people often do not understand their policies enough to get the maximum out of them, it is important to work with someone who can advocate for you. Call or email a Hollywood property damage attorney today.