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How to find temporary housing

By Nathan Guss|6 min|November 2022

A broad array of housing solutions is available. Here are some criteria that will help you make the right choice.

Have you been forced to leave your residence after a fire, water damage or other unfortunate event? Losing the comforts of home can be profoundly unsettling. Here are some tips for finding the temporary housing solution that will help get your life back on track.

1. Check with your insurer

If you have insurance, calling your carrier is the first step in finding housing. Additional living expenses (aka ALE) coverage is a standard part of most home insurance policies. It picks up the extra costs incurred when you need to temporarily leave your home. A claims adjuster will spell out your options and advise you on the search process.

Some insurance companies make all the arrangements for you. In other cases, you will have the choice or be required to find housing on your own. Keep in mind that many carriers have special deals with temporary housing providers and hotels, which simplifies your home search and can spare you upfront expenses (more on that later).

If that option is unavailable or undesirable, insurers will pay for many different types of housing while your home is being repaired. A hotel room, house, vacation cottage, apartment, campsite, or RV, among others, are all possibilities. You can even live with nearby friends or relatives and be reimbursed for the room and board that you pay your gracious hosts (albeit at a lower rate than for other accommodations).

Once you have gone over all your options, you will be able to determine the best type of housing to help get your family members back to their normal lives.

2. Continue paying your rent or mortgage

If you have lost the use of a home you are renting, continue to pay your full rent. If your landlord is unable to collect rent because your home is uninhabitable, you can submit it directly to your insurance carrier or insurance housing provider. When you don’t pay your rent or receive a rebate for the time you can’t live in the unit, insurers won’t cover your housing expenses. They will only pay for expenses that go beyond your normal cost of living: when you don’t have rent to pay, your temporary housing costs are no longer additional expenses that fall under your policy’s ALE clause.

Similarly, homeowners should continue paying their mortgages. If your bank suspends mortgage payments, your lodging expenses won’t be covered under your ALE clause for the same reason: they aren’t an extra cost beyond your normal payments.

3. Look for a temporary home on insurance housing or vacation home platforms

If you are taking the home search into your own hands, many online resources are available. Simply browse the offerings to find accommodations that best meet your needs.

Insurance housing platforms

Sinistar provides an online home-sharing platform for displaced policyholders that allows you to choose from homes in your area that meet your criteria. It has a Canada-wide network of local hosts who understand what you’re going through and enjoy helping neighbours in need.

You may already be familiar with the online accommodations marketplaces that typically cater to tourists. Here are some platforms that offer tourist accommodation across Canada:

Other platforms offer longer-term rentals with leases:

4. Consider upfront expenses

On vacation-oriented platforms, such as Airbnb and Vrbo, you are required to prepay the total rental price when the host accepts your reservation request. For medium- or longer-term rentals, this payment often amounts to thousands of dollars. In this case, you send your receipt to your insurer, and they reimburse you several days later.

Such large expenditures can be daunting for some families. If a lump sum payment would be a hardship, talk with your carrier. Some insurance companies give policyholders cash advances to lessen the inconvenience.

If your carrier is unwilling to do so or you just want to forego the hassle, you have other options. Insurance housing providers, such as Sinistar—who specialize in temporary rentals for displaced families—can make arrangements that let insurers directly pay for rentals. Many insurance companies also have similar deals with hotels. You may be required to sign an “assignment of claim,” which transfers what you owe to the insurer.


Relocating after home damages can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many solutions that will make your life easier.

When seeking a temporary home for your family, take these steps:

  1. Talk with your insurer.
  2. Continue paying your rent or mortgage.
  3. Research housing options on rental platforms.
  4. Determine how you will handle upfront expenses.

Best of luck with your search!

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