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Consumer Advisory: Will My Insurance Company Pay for a Place to Live If My Home Is Damaged by a Storm?

The answer to this question depends on the terms of your homeowners or renters policy. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for "additional living expenses" or "loss of use" costs that arise from a covered loss. This coverage is usually called "ALE."

If your home becomes uninhabitable because of damage from a covered loss and you have ALE under your policy, then your insurance company will reimburse you for certain "additional living expenses" incurred during the time that you cannot live in your home. For example, if a tree falls and damages your home so severely that you cannot remain there, and if that loss is covered under your policy and you have ALE coverage, then your insurance company will pay for certain additional living expenses.

The terms of your policy will specify which types of additional living expenses will be paid, any deductible that must be met, and the maximum dollar amount of coverage. Generally, additional living expenses can include payment for an apartment or a hotel room, and the additional expenses you incur for everyday needs such as food.

For example, if you usually spend $500 a month for food but now you must pay $750 a month because you have to go out to eat, your insurance company may pay $250 for the additional cost of food. Your normal expenses, such as your mortgage payment, gas and electric and water bills, would not be covered by ALE coverage and remain your responsibility. Before paying ALE, your insurance company likely will require documentation of both your normal living expenses and your additional living expenses; therefore, it is important to maintain records and keep receipts for all of your expenses while you are away from your home.

If you have ALE coverage, and experience a covered loss, under Maryland law, your insurance company may be required to pay for up to 12 months of additional living expenses, as long as your policy limits have not been reached. However, this will depend on the extent of your damage.

Remember that the terms of your policy determine what is covered, so be sure to read it or call the insurance company for information if you experience a loss that makes you unable to live at home. For more general information regarding your homeowners or renters insurance policy, visit our For Consumers tab at the top of this page.

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