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Dear Insurance Adviser,

Our home sustained some damage in a windstorm a few years ago, and I lost time from my job cleaning up, supervising contractors, etc. I heard somewhere that home insurance companies will compensate you for time you spend doing your own disaster cleanup work. Is that true? In case I find myself in a similar situation again, how does that work?

— Tim

Dear Tim,

Although homeowners policies don’t specifically require insurers to do so, most insurance companies will reimburse the insured for time spent doing cleanup after a disaster, at a mutually agreed upon general labor rate. You simply have to ask.

Your labor has to be for a claim covered by the policy. The amount of compensation has to be less than or equal to what it would have cost the insurance company to pay a contractor to do the work.

It’s important to note that home insurance policies require a homeowner to do what is necessary to protect the property from further loss. Any reasonable expenses or labor you incur in complying with that condition should be reimbursable by your insurance company.

For example, say that a large tree is blown over onto your home in a thunderstorm and punches a hole in the roof. Rain is pouring in, threatening to damage hardwood floors and furniture. If you hire someone to cut the tree off your roof and put a temporary patch over the hole to stop the rain from entering, those out-of-pocket expenses should be reimbursed by your insurance company 100 percent.

I hope this helps.

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