Can You Get Living Expenses From Your Homeowners’ Insurance?
Assume that your property is damaged, and that your homeowners’ insurance has agreed to make the necessary repairs. There doesn’t seem to be any fight over how much it will take to bring your property back to normal, or how to make the repairs. You’re all set, correct? Well, maybe not.
Additional Living Expenses
In many cases, the repairs to your property may be so extensive that you are not able to live in your home while the repairs are being made. Maybe making the repairs requires use of chemicals or construction that makes it unhealthy to live on the property.
You now are left with having to pay for a hotel, as well as the added costs that go with living away from home, such as dining out for almost every meal. The insurance company did not agree to pay for these extra expenses. Do they have to?
These additional living expenses (ALEs) are usually included and covered in insurance policies. The policy will usually have a cap on ALEs. For example, it may say that the insurance company will pay for 30% of the total value of your property, as ALEs.
When ALE Coverage Kicks In
ALE is available if property becomes “uninhabitable,” which can have various meanings. It is not the extent of the work being done; it is how the work affects the livability of the property that matters.
Certainly, access to restrooms, a working kitchen, running water, and electricity are relevant criteria in determining ALE. However, having 2 kids share a bedroom, or not having access to a home office, may be disputed by the insurance company.
What ALE Covers and Doesn’t Cover
ALE usually will cover expenses that go above your normal living expenses. So, for example, ALE will not cover all of your meals when you have to eat out of the home because you would have to pay for food even if you were living at home. ALE will pay for the expenses of eating in restaurants that are over and above what you would normally pay for if you were eating at home.
Remember that just because your policy says that ALEs are paid by the insurance company, does not mean they have to be offered voluntarily. For example, insurance company contractors, in an effort to minimize the insurance company’s costs, may try to convince you that your property is livable, even though the kitchen and all the bathrooms are inaccessible.
In some cases, insurance companies may try to get you to sign settlement agreements with them that don’t include ALEs. Excited that the insurance company is, finally, paying for repairs, you may overlook entitlement to ALE’s.
Contact the West Palm Beach homeowners insurance attorneys at the Celeste Law Firm today for a consultation if you are having trouble obtaining homeowners’ insurance benefits for any repair to damage on your property.