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Local Building Code Changes Can Affect Property Insurance Claims

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2015 | Firm News |

After a number of devastating hurricanes hit South Florida in the 1950s, it became clear that building codes needed to be strengthened to better enable buildings in the area to withstand hurricane force winds.

According to the Broward County website, existing codes addressed concerns that are not related to our area of the country, like snow loading, soil frost lines and earthquakes. Oddly the codes ignored issues related to hurricanes or tropical storms.

Since that time, Broward County modified its building code regulations pertaining to real local concerns, while making updates that include stronger building materials and processes as well as countless other issues.

Unfortunately, building code changes can greatly affect the ability to fully recover insurance funds for property damage claims. The knowledge of experienced Broward County property damage lawyers is often needed to resolve some complex issues.

Ordinance or Law Coverage Can Make a Difference
The devastation by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 seems to have caused insurance legislators to recognize the need for a new type of coverage that considers building code laws relative to property damage claims. The end result is 627.7011, which includes provisions for residential law and ordinance coverage.

This coverage is offered at additional charge, and it is optional to residential property owners.

Consider what might happen if a major storm destroys a portion of a home’s roof. If the rest of the roof no longer meets current building codes, the County may refuse to issue a permit unless the entire roof is replaced to meet new standards. Since the reason for replacing the entire roof is due to the updated code, you can only get coverage for the roof replacement if you purchased law and ordinance coverage.

Under the new law, homeowners who carry law and ordinance coverage can receive compensation for the additional code-related costs, for at least 25 percent of the dwelling limit.

As with most legislation, the provisions are complex and confusing, including the following:

• They apply to homeowners policies only, as defined by the insurance industry, and they specifically exclude mobile home policies.
• Unless insurers obtain written refusal of the coverage, they must provide coverage limited to 25 percent of the dwelling limit.
• Policyholders can choose coverage up to 50 percent of the dwelling limit.
• The coverage applies only to repairs of the damaged portion of the structure, unless total structure damage is greater than 50 percent of the replacement cost of the structure.

Even With the Extra Coverage, Questions Can Arise at Claim Time
Building code changes can add major expense to property damage repairs, but insurance companies have a great deal of experience when it comes to interpreting the law to their own advantage.

This is why it is important to obtain advice from an experienced property insurance claims attorney who can unravel the maze of insurance language and get to the real value of a claim. Call us at (954) 928-9568 or use our convenient online contact form to help level the playing field in dealings with your insurance company.

Founding Partners Damaso W. Saavedra and Allyson D. Goodwin