We left our home in New Orleans just before Katrina hit. USAA, after initially balking, looks like it's going to pay up for our evacuation expense!
Thank you USAA! I just got off the phone with a supervisor over at USAA, and it looks like our Renters insurance policy covers our evacuation.
When I called USAA initially, I told them there was no damage to our house. I figured honesty was the best policy here. When I was younger (and more foolish), that had not always been my policy, and all of the "truth management" I had engaged in only led to problems.
Initially, a claims person there told me that since our house had taken no damage, we could not get any evacuation expenses.
I could feel my blood pressure rising, so I asked the lady to have a supervisor call me, then politely got off the line. I actually was less interested in talking to a supervisor as I was in simply ending the conversation-- I never get anything good done when I'm mad.
I talked to a friend of mine who evacuated to Dallas, and he told me that first off, I had to remember I had done nothing wrong here. This was good advice, because some part of me always feels guilty about getting angry. Then he told me to call back and ask for a supervisor.
I did just that, and talked with a nice lady named Deanna. She listened patiently, then put me on hold for a moment. When she got back, she said, bewildered, that she had no idea why the previous person told me we would get nothing. We would receive what USAA calls "Additional Living Expenses", and quoted my policy:
PROHIBITED USE. If a civil authority prohibits you from use of the place where you reside as a result of direct damage to neighboring premises by a covered CAUSE OF LOSS we cover the ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSE or FAIR RENTAL VALUE loss as provided under 1. and 2. above, for no more than two weeks.
So we have to go back and collect up our receipts for those two weeks. But we're covered!
Moral of this story-- if you are a Katrina refugee, get a copy of your policy (you may have to download it from your insurance company's website), and if they tell you there will be less compensation than you think you deserve, nicely but firmly ask for a supervisor. The "we don't pay for that" phrase may just be a way for them to weed out the folks who will put up with paying for insurance that doesn't pay off when a disaster strikes. If you have USAA and you lived in Orleans parish, it seems that they will pay evacuation expenses.