Homeowners Insurance law

Posted by: Aug 02, 2013By Brian Stutheit

Effective January 1, 2014, homeowners insurance companies must offer applicants for insurance the opportunity to buy “law and ordinance” coverage as a part of their insurance plan.

“Law and ordinance coverage” means coverage for increased costs of demolition, construction, renovation, or repair associated with the enforcement of building ordinances and laws.

If you are buying, renewing or replacing your insurance anytime before January, 2014, you should ask your insurance agent how much law and ordinance coverage would cost.   Why?  Here is an example from a case Brian Stutheit, homeowners insurance attorney handled.

Our clients owned an older home.  During a heavy spring snowstorm, an old tree broke and fell onto the roof.   Our clients’ insurance policy would have paid for return of the roof to its original condition, but the Jefferson County building code had changed since the home was built.  Roofs must be more snow load and wind resistant.  This meant heavier rafters and better roof decking was required.  Jefferson County would not allow our homeowners simply to return the room to its old condition.  The insurance company refused to pay for these “upgrades” to the roof.   We were forced to sue the insurance agent for negligent failure to tell our clients that building code coverage was available and should be  considered by owners of older homes.  We won the lawsuit, but our clients did not have money to fix their roof while the lawsuit was pending.

Building codes have significantly changed for roofs, emergency escapes (window wells in basements), fire resistance and electrical systems.  An experienced insurance agent should help you to decide if you need building code coverage.