BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — As Billy Mertens searches through the cupboards of his Louisville home, he keeps running into an issue. 

Nearly a year after moving in, he admits he still can’t always find what he’s looking for.

“I have no idea where anything is,” he jokes. “Slowly getting there, after a year.” 

Insurance coverage for living expenses to expire

For the past year, the Mertens family has been living in a rental after losing their home in the Marshall Fire. The home is filled with rented furniture and rented appliances, which are all covered by insurance.

But in just a matter of days, that portion of their insurance policy will disappear. 

It’s called “additional living expenses,” or ALE coverage, and it’s standard in homeowner’s insurance policies.

“Under these sort of circumstances, it’s definitely not long enough,” Mertens said. “It would be helpful to have those ALEs a little longer.”

Mertens said his insurance company, Travelers, initially declined their requests to extend them. The Colorado Division of Insurance said they’re not alone.

Earlier this month, the agency wrote a letter to every insurance company involved with Marshall Fire claims, asking them to extend those policies.

“If their ALE is running out, and their home hasn’t been rebuilt yet, they’re still going to be incurring those expenses for rent, and things to put a roof over their heads,” Assistant Commissioner Vincent Plymell said.

Travelers insurance responds

The Problem Solvers reached out to Travelers, and Thursday morning, the company notified Fox31 they have extended their policy. 

A spokesperson says they’ve also decided to extend policies for every homeowner impacted by the Marshall Fire.

Plymell said moving forward, it shouldn’t be as much of an issue. Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed legislation requiring insurance companies to provide up to 24 months of coverage.

“In the case of a catastrophic wildfire, policyholders are to be given 24 months of ALE, with the ability to extend that twice at six months each,” Plymell said. “So moving forward, hopefully, that helps resolve the issue, but it doesn’t do much for people who are experiencing this issue now.”

The state is asking homeowners who believe they are being treated unfairly to contact them directly through the Division of Insurance

Plymell said, legally, insurance companies must extend your coverage if they’ve caused an “unreasonable delay” with processing a claim. Considering how many homes were impacted, they saw that’s likely the situation most homeowners are in.