I am just finishing up a week-long vacation in Florida with my wife and several other couples, and as it happens every time I’m out during an extended period with others, the topic of insurance eventually came up.
“What happens to your home insurance if you are told to evacuate before a hurricane and you don’t?”
I replied that I’m no expert on insurance in Florida, but I didn’t think anything “would happen” per se. If the physical loss to the home is a covered loss, then I didn’t think it would matter whether the homeowner was there during an evacuation order.
However, this got me thinking, as the question does bring up a few areas where the government and the homeowner policy interact, so I thought I would share some of those with you.
For starters, if a civil authority prevents a homeowner from using their home due to damage to a neighboring property, many homeowner policies may provide up to two weeks of additional living expense coverage. The caveat is that the damage to the neighboring property needs to be caused by a covered peril in the homeowner form, but provided it is, the policy will pay covered extra costs the homeowner incurs as part of obtaining temporary housing and other expenses while the neighboring property is repaired and/or stabilized.
Another section many homeowner policies provides coverage (commonly 10% of the dwelling limit of insurance) toward costs incurred by the enforcement of any ordinance or law that requires a property to be brought up to code after a covered loss. This may even include coverage for the remodeling, removal or replacement of undamaged property due to enforcement of any ordinance or law regulating repairs if it is needed to restore the damaged property that is covered.
Then, we have the “governmental action” exclusion that is often found in homeowner insurance policies. This section may exclude coverage for the destruction, confiscation, or seizure of property by a governmental agency. An exception to this exclusion may be included if the governmental agency is attempting to prevent the spread of a fire. (So, if you’re watching a reality police TV show and the SWAT team busts down the door, the suspect’s homeowner policy isn’t going to cover the resulting damage!)
Finally, homeowner insurance policies may often include a bodily injury and property damage exclusion pertaining to the use, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of controlled substances, except for legitimate use of prescription drugs by a person following the lawful orders of a licensed healthcare professional.
As I mentioned earlier, I am finishing up my week-long vacation, meaning I have more pressing matters to attend to right now. Specifically, the issue of where we are going to dinner this evening. No matter where we end up, I’m going to do my best to ensure my homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t have to interact with any governmental agencies while I’m out and about!
The information above is of a general nature, and your policy and coverages provided may differ from the examples mentioned. Please read your policy in its entirety to determine your actual coverage available or speak with your independent agent.
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