the medications can be kept at the proper
If substitute refrigeration is not immediately available, then the insureds may
have to be relocated, even though much
of the house is habitable and the insureds
are capable of dining out. An insured in
a dwelling that is universally accessible
needs to be relocated to a temporary
residence similarly equipped—with bars
in the showers, wider doors, and other
modifications critical to those with certain disabilities.
Swimming in Supplements
At times, supplemental items such as
a swimming pool may enter the picture.
One recent question concerned an insured
who owned a swimming pool and entertained weekly, while the family used the
pool daily. The carrier wanted to relocate
the insured to a residence without a pool.
That is not maintaining the insured at his
normal standard of living. An insured
who uses the pool frequently needs to be
relocated to a place with a pool in order
When determining coverage, the
following should be taken into account:
E Are there special medical conditions
that require a certain environment or
E can most activities of daily living be
accomplished at the residence?
E Is the insured simply inconvenienced,
or would staying in the house present
hazards to which the insured would not
normally be exposed?
These and similar elements are what
should be considered when determining
when insureds should or should not be
to maintain his normal standard of living.
What the insured considers normal is the
basis for the standard of living. For instance, Donald Trump maintains a much
different standard of living than I do.
Our Furry Friends
What about pets? In general, what
makes a home habitable for the insureds
makes the home habitable for the pets.
While in some circumstances the pets may
be able to stay at home while the insureds
are relocated, pets need to be taken care of
and often must be relocated as well.
Many hotels will not allow animals on
the premises. If the insureds were to board
their pets, then where would they normally board them? There are quite posh
doggie and kitty hotels, and, if the insured
has used such facilities in the past, then,
again, that is the normal standard of living for the pets. If the insureds normally
arrange for pets to stay with relatives or
at the Discount Doggie Lodge when they
go out of town, then that is where Bowzer
goes. However, ALE does not apply to pets
when the insured has not been displaced.
Another question concerned an insured with a loss that involved his fish
tank. The insured had many exotic fish
that had to be relocated until the tank was
repaired, and, as the fish were rare, they
had to be transferred to a shop familiar
with their specific care. Of course, this
was rather expensive. The insured wanted
to claim ALE for the fish. Unfortunately,
the insured was not displaced. There is no
coverage for the boarding of the exotic
fish. In order for the pets to receive ALE,
the insured must be displaced as well.
Neither insureds nor pets get to upgrade their standards of living. However,
as with its owners, pets with medical conditions may warrant special treatment.
It may be necessary to board the animal
where either the insured has access to
treat the pet, or at a kennel with staff able
to dispense medications to the animal.
It is important to remember when
dealing with ALE that what is covered
are additional costs that the insured incurs. If the insured normally spends $400
per month on food and, when relocated,
spends $600 a month on food, then what
additional living expense covers is the
difference of $200, not the entire $600.
A balance between extenuating circumstances and common sense is the best way
to approach determining just what makes
a house fit to live in. The policy provides
very broad coverage for the insured. K
Christine G. Barlow, CPCU, is an assistant editor with FC&S Online. She has
an extensive background in insurance
underwriting. She may be reached at