For those of you who suffered damage from Hurricane Ian, you may have been displaced from your home as a result. Destructive winds and rainwater can wreak havoc and often leave a home uninhabitable, forcing you and your family to live somewhere else until your home is repaired or otherwise restored to a habitable condition. As many hurricane victims know, this can unfortunately often take many, many months. The good news is most insurance policies offer coverage known as “Additional Living Expenses” coverage, often referred to shorthand as “ALE.”
What is Additional Living Expenses (ALE) Coverage?
Additional living expenses coverage reimburses you for expenses you incur—over and above your usual cost of living—if you cannot live in your home because it was damaged by a covered loss, for example, Hurricane Ian. Not all insurance policies include this coverage, but most homeowners' policies do. You can typically find it under Section D, “Additional Living Expenses” of your policy. Be sure to request, obtain, and review a copy of your policy before filing an insurance claim so you understand what coverages you have and what losses—ALE being only one example—you need to be documenting. ALE will be those additional costs you are incurring, over and above the mortgage, utilities, and typical household expenses you are still paying for your home, to reside and live somewhere else. Know that most ALE coverage, like the coverage on your dwelling, other structures, and contents, is subject to a limit. Meaning, your insurance company will only pay your additional living expenses up to a certain amount, but no more after that, even though you may incur ALE beyond your limit. Obtain and review a copy of your “Declarations Page” (often the first page of your insurance policy) to find the limits that are on each of our coverages: dwelling, other structures, contents, ALE, and others.
Some Examples of ALE
A perfect example of an additional living expense would be the cost of a hotel that you and your family have to pay because you cannot stay in your home. If you cannot cook in your hotel room, the additional costs you incur by having to eat out at restaurants would be another example. Think also about storage of your contents, or the additional cost you have to pay to wash and dry your clothes. If you are required to drive further to/from work or other obligations because of the new location where you are having to stay because your home is damaged the additional mileage you incur would be another example of an ALE. Often homeowners, like those who have suffered extreme damage from Hurricane Ian, are displaced for so long that they choose to rent a house during that time to be more comfortable. If you enter into a lease to stay at a different location because your home is too damaged to live in, this would be another example of an ALE. To recap, here are some prime examples of ALE:
- Hotel or temporary rental costs
- Restaurant meals
- Storage fees
- Laundry expenses
- Boarding costs for a pet
In addition, if the property that was damaged by Hurricane Ian is a rental property and you are unable to rent the property and collect rent as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Ian, many policies provide coverage for “Fair Rental Value” under Section D as well. Be sure to document any lost rents for rental properties you cannot rent out due to hurricane damage.
How to Submit Evidence of Your ALE to Your Insurance Company
Be sure to keep all receipts from hotel rooms, fuel, meals, storage, boarding, rent, etc. that you incur over and above your ongoing household expenses for submission to your insurance company for reimbursement. Know that ALE only provides coverage to allow you to “maintain your standard of living.” Meaning, if the home you lived in that was damaged by Hurricane Ian is a modest two-bedroom home with little acreage, your insurance company will not pay for you to rent a 5,000 square foot house with a pool and media room if there are other two-bedroom modest homes for rent in the same area.
Also be mindful of all documents you send to your insurance company for ALE reimbursement. Keep copies and records of what you sent, when you sent it, and to whom, and keep proof of your submissions. As the policyholder, you often have to work very hard as your own advocate by keeping tedious records of everything you send to your insurance company and everything your insurance company sends to, and requests from, you. If you feel you need help documenting your insurance claim or working with your insurance company to reach a resolution, do not hesitate to contact us. We never charge any fee or cost, or require any obligation to review your claim, answer your questions, and provide guidance.