As tens of thousands of Louisianians are experiencing hardship after Hurricane Ida in the face of evacuations, physical damage to their homes and businesses, power outages, a lack of drinking water and localized gas shortages, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is urging insurers to pay prohibited use coverage.
Donleon on Sept. 3 issued Bulletin 2021-07, which calls upon insurers to generously interpret provisions for coverage surrounding evacuation orders in favor of policyholders.
“Local officials may or may not have used mandatory evacuation orders for their constituents to evacuate for fear of putting them at greater risk, but we all know the need was clear for people to get out of the way of Hurricane Ida,” Donelon said in a media release. “I urge insurers to not use lack of a mandatory evacuation order to deny policyholders coverage for their evacuation expenses.”
Commissioner Donelon’s call echoes that of President Biden, who urged insurance companies to “do the right thing” before his visit to Louisiana on Friday.
Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana on Aug. 29 as a strong Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. The storm developed quickly and maintained strength even as it moved inland. The widespread damage and disruption of basic services are not only preventing those who evacuated from coming home, but unsafe conditions are prompting officials in some hard-hit parishes to urge those who rode out the storm at home to leave and those who did leave to stay away.
Most homeowners policies include coverage for additional living expenses (ALE). Prohibited use coverage generally pays extra expenses for up to two weeks when an evacuation order prohibits policyholders from living in their homes. When homeowners have physical damage to their properties that is covered by insurance, additional living expense coverage will pay for longer term additional expenses if the home is uninhabitable.
Anyone who is facing expenses from Hurricane Ida that are not covered by insurance should apply for Individual Assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. National Flood Insurance Program policies do not cover additional living expenses.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance encourages everyone to keep receipts for any extra expenses they face after a disaster. Additional living expense coverage pays the expenses beyond a policyholder’s normal expenses for housing and food, such as the cost of a hotel room or apartment rental and reasonable restaurant meals when someone is unable to cook.
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