Need a hotel? When Insurers Pay for Room Service, Close to Home and Far Away

By James Daw, Freelance Writer

Toronto, ON (Jan. 15, 2014) – Winter has brought flight and other travel delays. It has sucked heat and light from homes across a wide swath of North America. It has brought trees and power lines crashing down. Many folks fled drafty air terminals and frigid homes, preferring to stay in comfy hotel rooms. Others toughed it out, not realizing their insurer might have paid for room service and housekeeping. So, for future record-breaking winters, let’s review some rules.

Trip cancellation insurance

If you have added the optional coverage to a travel medical policy or purchased a standalone policy, you will not have to sleep in a drafty airport terminal or a land transport depot if your travel has been delayed overnight or longer. Just check your policy for daily and total coverage limits.

Travel medical insurance

Most policies will only pay for a hotel room and meals—including room service—if you, your travel companion, or a relative back home has travelled to be with an insured person who requires emergency medical care in a foreign hospital. Once again, check your policy for daily and maximum coverage limits. They will vary among policies.

Auto insurance

Your auto insurer will only pay for damage to your car caused by falling tree limbs, flying ice, or other storm hazards provided you have purchased optional comprehensive coverage or all-perils coverage. If you have only paid for liability, collision, and personal injury coverage, you will not be covered for weather damage, just as you would not be covered for theft or vandalism. You won’t get any room service for an automobile, unless perhaps you have added a porch and insured a motor home as your residence.

Home or tenant’s insurance

This one is more complicated. You may turn to your home insurance to pay for the cost of a hotel, meals, or, if you ask your insurer politely, the rental of an electrical generator—but only under specific circumstances.

Pete Karageorgos, a certified insurance expert and spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says the loss of power that causes you to leave home and go to a hotel must result from damage to the home. Your hotel would also be covered if you were barred from entering your home by police, fire, or other civil authorities.

So, if power loss results from an icy tree limb falling onto your home or the electrical supply line on the property, then your hotel expenses would be covered by your insurance, since your home would be deemed unlivable or in need of repair.

If you are a renter, ask your landlord about hotel costs. Your own tenant’s policy won’t pay for this expense, but your landlord owes you a fit place to live whether or not there is insurance to pay for hotel room service.

The mere loss of power, heat, refrigeration, and your ability to cook at home would not provide a free ticket to a hotel if those hardships resulted from problems down the street or across town, however. But if electrical power is cut off (even as a result of damage away from your property), most home and tenant policies will pay for up to $2,000 worth of damage to a freezer or its contents resulting from the blackout.

The cost of cleaning up fallen tree limbs will not be covered unless those limbs happened to damage your home, fence, garage, or other insured property on the way down. Some high-end home polices do pay for landscape damage, but the dollar limit is likely to be low.

Before you leave home

Special precautions should be taken if you leave your home vacant, whether during a power outage or a trip to Florida, during “the normal heating season.” You will not be covered for water damage that results from frozen pipes, unless someone has visited the home daily to check the pipes and water flow. Otherwise, you should leave a tap slightly open or drain your water pipes, toilet bowls, and other water vessels, such as hot water radiators. You should also pour marine antifreeze into the curved water traps that protect you from sewer gas.

Karageorgos says you will have to contact your insurer to ask whether they will pay the cost of hiring a plumber to drain your plumbing system, perhaps because of the weather and your lack of knowledge.

But be careful when hiring someone to do repairs to your home. Karageorgos warns you will not be reimbursed to correct bad workmanship. Your insurer may, however, be able to recommend reputable repair services, and use moral suasion to obtain speedier service or to reverse excess charges.

Enjoy your hotel stay

Enjoy your stay in a hotel, despite the unpleasant circumstances. Just don’t assume your insurance will pay the bills. You must buy the right coverage in the first place. Then you must meet certain requirements and, in order to be fully compensated, you need to stay within the daily or other coverage limits.

About Ingle International

A trusted name in the industry since 1946, Ingle International provides customized insurance solutions for anyone studying, working, or living anywhere in the world. Representing insurers worldwide, Ingle International will find the right insurance product to suit the unique travel needs of groups and individuals.

This article, written by James Daw, is provided by Ingle International. Ingle International has partnered with Insurance-Canada to provide Canadian travellers with the right travel insurance and the information they need for safe and healthy travels.

Source: Ingle International Inc.