Insurance advice for those with uninhabitable homes in Edgecumbe

The Insurance Council of New Zealand is advising people who have uninhabitable homes in Edgecumbe to contact their insurer directly for help with temporary accommodation. 

This comes after the small Eastern Bay of Plenty town was inundated by flood waters last week in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.

 Most home policies and contents policies provide cover for temporary accommodation. Each policy wording will differ so people are being urged to check with their insurer. 

Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton says, “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.