September 16, 2015 | Share
Does Your Insurance Protect You When Disaster Renders Your Home Unlivable?
You live in your home, so aren’t you in the best position to determine when a disaster has made conditions unlivable? Unfortunately, your insurance company may have different standards, leaving you to face significant out-of-pocket expenses to stay elsewhere until repairs are complete.
According to the Florida Homeowners' Insurance toolkit, most property insurance policies provide Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage, but the rules and amounts can vary from one policy to the next.
Homeowners should carefully review this coverage before disaster strikes. Even if you believe coverage is sufficient, however, you may need help from experienced Fort Lauderdale property damage attorneys when the insurer interprets your coverage differently at claim time.
How ALE Coverage Works
Even if your property sustains no damage, civil authorities may require you to stay out of your home because of risks posed by direct damage to your neighborhood, utilities or other essentials. ALE coverage typically reimburses you for expenses related to any relocation caused by a covered peril.
Reimbursement typically covers many types of expenses, from additional housing costs to rental of furniture for a temporary residence to a daily meal allowance, generally for a pre-defined maximum time period.
ALE coverage pays only expenses over and above normal living expenses. For example, if you normally spend $10 per day for food, forced restaurant eating that costs $25 per day would justify a daily reimbursement of $15. Be sure to retain receipts for all expenditures.
Interpretation of ALE Coverage Can be Subjective
Common sense tells you not to expect ALE coverage for costs of mansion living when you normally reside in a two-bedroom home. However many questions can arise when you discover that the insurer's interpretation of coverage varies significantly from your own beliefs:
• The definition of normal expenses: Insurers often define normal expenses as higher, reducing your daily benefits. They may also deny claims for things that they deem to be outside the realm of necessary expenses.
• Coverage time maximums: You can lose out on one or more days' worth of expenses just because the insurer uses a later start date for your claim.
• Disagreement on livability: Insurance companies may cut off reimbursement before the final date of coverage if they claim the home, or a significant portion of the home has become livable, even when you disagree.
It is almost impossible to cover all expenses related to a major property damage event. Also, insurance claims adjusters are highly skilled at finding ways to reduce or deny valid claims.
An experienced property insurance claims lawyer can help level the playing field between you and the insurer. Call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form before signing any settlement agreement that you believe is inadequate.
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