Additional living expenses

I had a fire, where do I go tonight?

If you are not able to pay for a hotel and you aren’t close to anyone who will let you stay with them the Red Cross will give you a voucher and some pocket money to hold you over. If you’re in a financial bind but have insurance you can notify your agent who can cut an emergency draw to hold you over. Save your receipts on what you spend it on. The advance will be released out of additional living expenses coverages or contents. Your insurance has sections and limits to those sections. Any advance will go against one of the two coverages. You will have to keep track if the money was spent on food and hotels or clothes and shoes. If you can't support how you spent the draw the money will be deducted from somewhere else in your coverages.  Any cost you spend out of the ordinary; valet parking, babysitters, veterinarians to kenneling a pet, mileage for miles driven, virtually any additional living expenses not normal for your day to day. Be clear you need to know what your policy allows for, and in which way your limits are applied. Talk to Tony at The Claims Boss for guidance.

Why did my insurance company recommend a housing vendor?

Your insurer will place you with a temporary housing vendor. The vendor will charge you to middleman payments. In most cases, they will have you do most of the hard work of finding a property to rent, and then take a cut of what is spent. This vendor is acting as an agent of your insurance company and trying to keep costs low. All vendors should be avoided because of their effects in your claim. Seemingly helpful these companies help keep costs low for your insurer which can harm you. Oddly they do force loss victims to sign their contacts, but take orders from your insurance company. As a loss victim you should be adequate to find your own rental home working with a local realtor who will be much cheaper and actually do the hard work for you.

Will my insurance pay for a hotel?

Your insurance policy will generally cover the hotel costs. Be careful to be vocal and avoid the use of housing vendors. They are there to give you bare minimum guidance. You're entitled to go anywhere you're comfortable with. You have no real restraint. A housing vendor would take you to a cheap motel and try and get a room with a small kitchenette. They will jam a family of five in one room if you let them. The truth is you can go anywhere. I recommend a nice quality place with a five star restaurant to bill your room. Get enough rooms to make your people comfortable. You will be there for a minute so you may as well be comfortable. Avoid rooms with kitchenettes. As long as you're in a room with no kitchenette your insurance will cover meals  eaten out. Once a kitchen is established they’ll try and cut the food expenses.

What kind of rental space will my insurance pay for?

You're entitled to the equivalence of what you had. If you had a three bedroom home with a garage and fenced yard with a pool, that’s what you qualify for. If you can’t find exactly what you had you can spread out the facilities if needed. For example, you might not find a house with a pool. In that case you can join a club with a pool. Use your discretion based on the amounts you have to work with in your coverages. Budget based on the time you think you’ll be out of your house. Your insurance will even pay to fill a rental with furniture. There are companies that will rent furniture. They deliver and pick up. You can rent anything.

Will my insurance pay me back for eating out?

Yes, your insurer will pay for food from a restaurant if you eat out. At one point you will be asked what your weekly food costs are while eating out because of the loss. Your insurer will pay you what you prove you spent while eating out, so keep your receipts. Your insurer will deduct your normal food costs prior to the loss event. Expect the question about what you were spending on food before the loss. If you buy groceries only while out of the property, your insurer won’t have to pay you back. They will claim you had to buy groceries before the loss anyway. Save your receipts! Get a professional claims handler. Call The Claims Boss for help, to guide you in all the coverages and how they really work.

Will my insurance find a place for me to live?

Insurance companies only have a duty to pay you. Nowhere are they obligated to provide service or give referrals. They do not owe you any duty to find you a rental property. They will push you to use their housing vendor. They do this to help control costs. The cozy relationship exists where the vendor  gets spoon fed clientele in exchange for loyalty to them not you and the promise to help control costs for them.

It’s costing more living in a rental house. Does my insurance pay for the increased costs?

Any costs that exceed your normal living is covered. Higher utilities, association dues on rental property, insurance for furniture, the cost of a relator, sitters for kids, daycare for children, laundry at a laundromat (but not the soap). This coverage is known as A.L.E. It will cover anything that raises your cost of living. If you’re driving further to go to work and or schools for your kids all this is covered.

Do I have to use the housing vendor my insurance company put me with?

I would definitely avoid all vendors referred to me by an insurance company. Nothing obligates you to use their vendor. My advice is to manage your own A.L.E. account. You’re a better steward of money and have no need to hire a company to manage renting a house. The fees they charge take away from your family and their advice only benefits them and your insurance company. Stay Away! Call The Claims Boss to get more information.

Will my insurance pay me to stay with family/friends?

Yes, your insurance will pay your family or friends to house you. They will pay as much as a hotel would cost. They will offer you much less and you may have to be firm with them. Your insurance  will not pay for any food once a home with a kitchen is made available. After all, no one wants long term guests, not even friends and family. This works in some cases but ultimately no one wants to live with other people, neither your friends or family let alone you. Be prepared to have a contract put together and know your insurance company might ask for their social security numbers if you claim you have not paid yet but owe. In other cases if you prove you paid a third party your insurer will reimburse you with no documents other than proof of payment.

I lost a tenant who rented from me. Does my insurance cover that?

Yes, your policy should cover lost rental income. If you rented a room or space at an insured location and because a covered loss took place that made the property unlivable then you qualify to get paid the lost rental income. Be prepared to show deposit slips from your bank, evidence of a payment history and a lease.

Can I lease a trailer and have my insurance company reimburse me for it as a rental?

This can be a great option for some people. Yes, you can lease a trailer and have it put on your property. All the hook up, delivery and pick up are covered. In some cases the trailer is leased to a loss victim and at the end of the lease term they can pay out any balance owed and actually purchase the trailer. Be clear you are not to personally benefit when using insurance money. I’ve seen insurers pay for a trailer through a lease and at the end ask for it back under their “right of salvage”. A claim professional can better explain how this would work. Get educated before you decide.

Can I get an advance from my insurance company for living expenses?

Absolutely, you can ask your agent for an advance. It’s common to get $2,500.00 immediately. Your agent can cut an emergency check for your insurer to help with immediate supplies and living costs. If your agent refuses or claims they can’t; know the agent is misinformed, but ultimately the squeaky wheel gets oil. A public adjuster can make things happen for you. Keep record on how and what you spend any advance money on. Ultimately it will be reduced in some coverage at some point. Toothbrush and underwear will come out of contents coverage. Hotel and food will be subtracted from your A.L.E. coverage. It’s your job to keep an accounting of how you spend the advance.