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If your house has been damaged from a natural disaster, like a hurricane, you may not be stuck couch surfing until your home is repaired. Home insurance policies usually include Additional Living Expenses, which will help cover expenses to help you avoid being stuck couch surfing. These expenses can include hotel stays, rent, storage fees, meals, and more.

When Can ALE be Claimed?

If your home has been made uninhabitable by something covered by your insurance policy, like a tree crashing into your roof or a hurricane, you may be able to claim ALE. Before you move into a hotel, you need to contact your insurance company to get approval from them to do so because of the insurance claim you will be making. There is usually certain criteria involved, like no electricity or running water, which would make the home uninhabitable. Take the time to ask before you begin to incur expenses, just in case ALE is not covered in that instance.

There are two situations that can lead to you being able to claim ALE from your insurance company.

Direct Damage

If your home has been made uninhabitable from physical damage and has been rendered uninhabitable, so long as the cause of the damage if a peril covered by your insurance. If a fire, for example, were to damage your home enough to make it uninhabitable, you would be able to claim ALE, but if mold was what rendered the home uninhabitable, that is unlikely to be covered by ALE.

You can claim ALE for the amount of time it takes for the damages to be repaired and your home is considered livable again.

Civil Authority Order

If you are not allowed to live in your home because a civil authority has evacuated you, due to a hurricane warning or wildfire, you should be able to claim ALE. However, in the case of a civil authority evacuating you, some insurance companies will set a time period or dollar limit for the use of ALE. It is a good idea to check that for your policy, especially if you live in an area that is more likely to require evacuation — for example, an area that has the threat of hurricanes every year.

An evacuation alert or notice does not qualify for ALE, because those are considered to be voluntary evacuations. Only an officially ordered evacuation qualifies. Another important thing to note is that once the evacuation order has been lifted, your evacuation ALE will end, even if you do not or cannot return home quickly. If your home is too damaged to return to, your claim related ALE can then take over.

Common Expenses Covered by ALE

Some of the most common things included in your ALE are:

·         Restaurant meals

·         Mileage or transportation costs

·         Lodgings, whether they are motel, rent, or something else

·         Laundry, if your accommodations do not offer it

·         Furniture rental

·         Moving or displacement costs

·         Storage

·         Pet boarding

Make sure that for everything you hope to have covered by your ALE, you keep every single receipt to turn over to your insurance company. ALE is intended to cover costs above your normal living expenses, so not everything is going to be covered.

It is important to note that charging $200 meals for two every single night, your insurance is not going to cover that because it is an excessive amount of money.

Is a Second Home or Vacation Covered Under ALE?

Yes, you can claim ALE for your vacation home, but it does work a little differently than a primary residence. Depending on the time of year and frequency you use your vacation home, the insurance adjuster will determine if you will need to find a hotel or temporary rental to cover the times you would normally be there. So, if your vacation home is damaged in December, but you are not going to be there until March, the ALE would only cover the times in March that you would be there for. The amount you can claim in your ALE is likely to be less for your second home than they are for your primary residence.