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Unallocated Loss Adjustment Expenses: Definition & Overview

Updated: November 24, 2022

Every business is going to have a range of expenses that are incurred. These can range from payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and equipment, for example. But for insurance companies, there can be even more to consider. 

Unallocated loss adjustment expenses play an integral role within the insurance industry. But what exactly are they and how are they calculated? Continue reading to learn more. 

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    • Unallocated loss adjustment expenses are costs that an insurer incurs, but can’t be attributed to a single, specific claim.
    • Typical unallocated loss adjustment expenses are often more general, such as salaries, investigations, and overhead. 
    • Allocated loss adjustment expenses (ALAE) are the opposite and are attributable to a specific claim. 
    • Most insurers hold reserve funds to help manage these types of expenses. 

    What Are Unallocated Loss Adjustment Expenses (ULAE)?

    Unallocated loss adjustment expenses (ULAE) are specific types of costs that an insurance company incurs. These costs aren’t able to be associated with processing a specific claim. An insurer will often set aside expenses into reserve funds.

    Along with unallocated loss adjustment expenses, things like contingent commissions as well as allocated loss adjustment expenses (ALAE) are also included in the reserve funds.

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    How to Calculate Unallocated Loss Adjustment Expenses 

    One of the things to keep in mind when calculating unallocated loss adjustment expenses is that they won’t have a report date or a loss date since they don’t apply to a specific claim. This can make calculating them a little hard, but there are several different methods that you can use. 

    The first method is the transaction-based method, where you would take each claim transaction and allocate costs. You would do this by using the average cost for each individual type of transaction. This can be one of the most difficult methods to calculate, but can often be the most accurate method. 

    Another method is using the actual percentage of ULAEs paid out over a year. However, using this method isn’t going to account for any changes to how often claims are made or any growth changes. 

    As well, some insurers choose to calculate a certain number of years’ data and then add a ratio to the total amount of paid ULAE to paid losses. Yet, using this method doesn’t consider any adjustments for inflation.

    Whatever the method, the insurer will have to adjust estimates to its actual loss and loss-adjustment expense reserve over a period. And by examining the loss reserve department, analysts can see how accurate an insurance company has been at estimating. 

    How to Reimburse for Unallocated Loss Adjustment Expenses 

    Certain liability policies have clauses or endorsements included in them.

    These clauses require an insurance company to be reimbursed by a policyholder for any unallocated or allocated loss adjustment expenses. 

    These fees can be charged by any number of people, including:

    • Arbitrators 
    • Attorneys 
    • Investigators 
    • Experts 
    • Mediators 

    There can also be other costs that are incidental to adjusting a claim. However, regardless of the individual, it’s always important to read the endorsement language of the policy. It will specify what may or may not be included. For example, it could say that a loss adjustment expense isn’t going to be included with the policyholder’s fees and attorney costs. 

    So if an insurer decides to deny coverage and the policyholder sues the insurer successfully, attorney fees and costs wouldn’t be covered. 

    If this situation happens, the insurance company won’t need to adjust the claim. It also wouldn’t be able to apply its deductible to the policyholder’s expenses in defending themselves. 

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    Special Considerations 

    There are commercial liability policies that include endorsements that specify a policyholder must reimburse the insurer for any loss adjustment expenses. And this relates to both adjusted and unadjusted expenses. 

    By adjusting a loss, it’s the process of determining the value of a loss or negotiating a settlement. So, loss adjustment expenses are usually costs that are incurred by an insurance company for settling or defending a liability claim. 


    Unallocated loss adjustment expenses are costs associated with an insurance company that aren’t attributable to a specific insurance claim. These expenses can happen over a period of time and they can come from legitimate claims. 

    The veracity of claims can sometimes lead to extra business costs for the insurer. This is why it’s important to read and understand any clauses or endorsements outlined in your policy. Since these costs aren’t associated with specific legitimate claims, insurers will often set up reserve funds. 

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    Unallocated Loss Adjustment Expenses FAQs

    What Are Examples of ULAE?

    Some of the most common examples of ULAE expenses include attorney fees, shipping and mailing, depositions, investigations, and even technology. 

    What Is the Difference Between ALAE and ULAE?

    ALAE relates to costs that are allocated, meaning they are for a particular claim. ULAE are expenses that are unallocated, meaning they aren’t attributable to a specific claim. 


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