In this blog post, I will address what the term “Additional Living Expenses” (often referred to as "ALE") means and which expenses are generally considered ALE under a homeowner’s insurance policy. I will also provide a few tips on how to maximize your ALE coverage.
What is ALE Coverage?
ALE coverage is a type of coverage under your homeowner’s insurance policy. It reimburses you extra for maintenance expenses when your home is uninhabitable (a covered loss under your policy). ALE generally include costs such as temporary rent, meals, mileage, laundry, storage fees for personal belongings, and pet boarding while you are displaced from your home.
How Does ALE Coverage Work, and How Do I Maximize It?
Your insurance policy will govern whether you have ALE coverage and what the limits are. I have reviewed hundreds upon hundreds of homeowner’s insurance policies in the state of Florida, and I can tell you that ALE provisions vary dramatically from one policy to the next. Reading the fine print in the policy is critical. As they say: The devil is in the details.
Once you have verified that you have ALE coverage under your insurance policy, you need to put your insurance company on notice that you are claiming ALE. This is also the time to confirm the process by which you can receive coverage while you are unable to live in your home.
Here are some pointers to maximize your ALE coverage:
1. Keep Records
You must provide your insurance company with documentation to get reimbursed for ALE. To that end, scan and save all your ALE receipts and checks in a Dropbox folder or other online file. You can use a scanner at an office supply store if you do not have access to one. I also recommend documenting in a notepad any phone conversations you have with your insurance company.
Generally, carriers want to see and reimburse your bills as they are incurred—not when you are able to live in your home again. In other words, you generally will not receive a lump-sum check from your insurance carrier to cover the cost of your ALE. More likely, you will receive multiple payments over the course of the period you are claiming ALE.
2. Look for Comparable Living Accommodations
ALE will cover similar living accommodations to which you are accustomed. You do not have to stay in a one-bedroom home if your house has two bedrooms. Before you move into temporary housing while your house is being repaired, confirm with your insurance company that the temporary housing you have selected is comparable in size and quality to your present home.
3. Consult with an Experienced Attorney
In the event that you have to sue your insurance company, consult with an experienced homeowner’s attorney. Filing a lawsuit against your insurer may jeopardize your ability to receive further ALE payments.
4. Remember that ALE is for additional necessary living expenses.
Do not assume that your insurance company is simply going to reimburse 100% of your bills, even if you provide meticulous documentation. ALE payments are for living expenses you incurred as a result of your home becoming uninhabitable. In other words, it is for expenses you would NOT have incurred if your home were in its regular habitable condition. This is an important distinction that governs the eligibility of your ALE.
5. Keep to a budget
You want to be thoughtful about what you claim as ALE because you want to avoid exhausting the limits of your policy. Do not be surprised if your insurance company questions what your living expenses were previously, while you were living in your home, to compare with the out-of-home expenses you are claiming.
If you have any additional questions about the ALE you are entitled to under your homeowner’s insurance policy, call PZ Law Firm at (407) 500-EZPZ (3979) today. Our attorneys have the experience you need to ensure that you receive all benefits owed to you by your insurance company.
Disclaimer: This column does not create a client-attorney relationship and is not intended as legal advice. Should you need any legal advice, speak to an attorney who is skilled in the area and jurisdiction you require.