Have you thought about what would happen if you had a massive fire? Of course, your homeowners insurance would cover the damages to your house, but what about you? Where will you live while repairs are going on? How will you eat if a disaster wipes out your access to food? How do you afford to live when your living space isn’t available?
Here’s where additional living expense insurance comes in.
What is Additional Living Expense Insurance?
Additional living expense (ALE) coverage is a part of most homeowners insurance, condo insurance, and renters’ insurance policies. It is the portion of your policy that will help you cover living expenses if you can’t live in your dwelling after a covered loss or dwelling damage – most likely a natural disaster.
ALE coverage will also actually cover a little more than your typical living expenses if you’re kicked out of your home for repairs. For example, an extended stay in a motel, hotel, or AirBnb is going to cost way more than what you spend normally. If you don’t have a way to store food at your temporary location, ALE insurance can also help you cover the cost of eating at restaurants while everything is being fixed.
ALE insurance may also help cover:
- The costs of doing laundry
- Storage costs
- The cost of moving if you’re displaced by a natural disaster
- A place for your pet to live if you can’t take them into your temporary living situation
- Relocation mileage
- The cost of renting furniture you’re used to having in your home
How Much ALE Coverage Do I Have?
Don’t go ripping off your roof just yet! ALE coverage does have a limit, and it depends on whether you have home, renters, or condo insurance.
- Homeowners ALE will be about 10-30 percent of your dwelling coverage limit.
- Renters ALE will cover up to about 30 percent of your personal property limit.
- Condo ALE will cover up to 50 percent of your personal property limit.
Another caveat is that additional living expense insurance only covers the expenses needed to maintain the living conditions you have already been accustomed to in your current home. It’s also important to highlight the importance of the coverage title: Additional. This means that your insurance will only cover whatever cost is left over after you pay for what you can.
For example, let’s say you normally pay $900 for rent. All of a sudden, a fire breaks out in the building and destroys your apartment. You landlord tells you that you don’t have to worry about paying rent for a unit you can’t live in, so that’s $900 that you would be able to use to find a place to live. So let’s say you find a place to stay that looks and feels about the same as your apartment – similar square footage, included appliances, patio, etc. – but the neighborhood or complex of this dwelling charges $1,200 a month. Your insurance would pay the additional $300, not the full $1,200. So, if your temporary living plans include living in the lap of luxury in a $2,000/month dwelling, your insurance will probably determine that that’s not your usual standard of living.
Restaurant Expenses & Reimbursements
Filing a claim for your loss in food expenses can be a sticky situation. Your carrier will want to know how much you spend on a regular basis to figure out the additional money they’re willing to give you. Also, depending on your insurance carrier, they could give you a lump sum as a part of the additional living expense payout for food or you’ll end up being reimbursed for your food expenses.
In either situation, insurance companies usually have an average maximum limit that they pay out for food expenses. If your normal food expenses are above that average, then you’ll have to pay special attention to the amount you spend while you’re displaced from your home. You’ll need to consider and keep paperwork or proof for a few things:
- Your normal food expenses – everything from groceries to fast food to sit-down restaurants
- Your food expenses while your home is being repaired
- How the two amounts differ – because the insurance company will want to know that you’re using your normal expenses as a baseline for the extra amounts that you’re paying.
- Written documents from the insurance company if you have permission for expenses outside of the normal realm.
Don’t get carried away with your restaurant spending either! If you normally cook at home, even if you’re used to eating a bit lavishly, your carrier will already take that into account when they give you ALE funds. If your insurance places you in a temporary space that has the kitchen you need and are used to, they probably won’t foot the bill for the additional cost of eating restaurant lobster every night.
It is a bit tricky to know exactly what your insurance carrier will cover since hotels, motels, hostels, restaurants, and extended stay complexes can cost more than a rent payment or a mortgage. So, it’s important to talk to an insurance agent about exactly what your ALE coverage allows.
Our insurance experts are always here to walk you through what your ALE will cover if you’re displaced and present you with a network of temporary living spaces that won’t max out your ALE budget. Call 404.352.0304 or fill out our online quote form to get a quote on the type of home, renters, or condo insurance that will give you the treatment you deserve when you’re in a pinch.