Insurance Coverage for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) for Evacuation
If you evacuated from your home due to Hurricane IDA, you may have insurance coverage for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) under either your homeowners or renters’ insurance policies.
Additional living expenses (ALE), also known as Loss of Use. This provision in your insurance policy pays the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there due to mandatory evacuation or as a result of wind damage to your home. Please note, many Parishes did not issue a mandatory evacuation decree. However, locations outside the levee protection and other vulnerable locations did issue mandatory evacuation orders.
ALE coverage covers hotel bills, restaurant, meals and other costs, over and above your usual living expenses. It can also include storage fees, mileage if you have to drive further to work, pet boarding and laundry. Even utilities that are more expensive in your temporary home may be included. Also, you are entitled to stay in a place comparable in size and quality to your house.
The ALE coverage in your homeowner’s policy has limits—either a percentage of your dwelling coverage – typically 20 percent, or a time limit, usually 12 months. If you rent out part of your house, ALE also covers you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed. This is sometimes insured on an actual-loss-sustained basis (what the homeowner would have earned had the loss not occurred).
Unfortunately, if you went to a hotel because your power is out, you won’t be eligible for ALE reimbursement unless “Civil Authority” applies or your sustained physical damage to your residence rendering your residence inhabitable.
Additional Living Expenses (ALE) is only triggered through “Civil Authority” provisions usually arising from a mandatory evacuation or if the property is considered uninhabitable due to physical damage. “Civil Authority” coverage for ALE is activated if the following elements are met:
- Government authority prohibits access to the insured property;
- The prohibition was issued as a result of physical loss or damage caused to property in the area;
For Hurricane Ida, “Civil Authority” will be a complicated and highly contested legal question because Parishes in the greater New Orleans area did not officially order a mandatory evacuation (except for outside levee protection and low-lying area). Conversely, government officials stated it was too late for a mandatory evacuation but implied that an evacuation order would have been issued otherwise. Government officials recommended residents to leave and recommended residents who left to stay away. Also, curfews were imposed. It is anticipated that many insurance companies will allege that the “Civil Authority” coverage is not activated since a mandatory evacuation was not formally issued and deny your ALE claim.
In response to the anticipated denial of ALE claims, we believe that the communications of government officials constituted “de-facto” application of “Civil Authority”. Specially, governmental officials recommended residents to leave, if possible, stay away pending restoration of power/utilities, access to gas, clearing obstructions to roads and the imposition of curfews. Accordingly, we will vigorously argue that the requirements for “Civil Authority” was effectively satisfied to activated ALE.
It is imperative you save ALL RECEIPTS and keep track of all mileage in order to fully document your ALE claim. If you have the capability, it is recommended you list all your reimbursements in an EXCEL spreadsheet or other similar spread sheet and attach copies your receipts referenced in the spread sheet. Please note, always keep the original receipts and give copies to the claims adjuster because claims adjusters often lose receipts due to volume of claims and possible reassignment of claims. Also, scanning information by DROPBOX or another similar program would be ideal.
Please note, if you flooded, the National Flood Insurance Program flood policy doesn’t include Additional Living Expenses (ALE). If you have a combination of wind and flood damage, you may have an ALE claim under your homeowner’s policy.
Our firm has prosecuted over 2000 wind and flood claims for homeowners and businesses since Hurricane Katrina. You can call me, at no obligation, if you have any questions about any aspect of your hurricane claim.
Also, you can listen to our radio show “All Things Legal” on Sunday mornings from 8 -10 on WWL 870 AM/105.3 FM/Audacy.com.
J. Douglas Sunseri
Nicaud & Sunseri Law Firm, LLC
3000 18th Street
Metairie, LA 70002
Nicaud & Sunseri Law Firm-Northshore
111 N. Causeway Suite 210
Mandeville LA 70448