Yes. The answer is yes, you need it. I won’t give you that lawyer “it depends” answer on this one.
LAW AND ORDINANCE: LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. PLEASE DISCUSS WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.
This paragraph is often contained at the forefront of property insurance policies. Essentially, it pays for additional costs and loss of income resulting from any application of local, state or federal regulation affecting the rebuild of a covered structure.
Below, is the language you’ll typically see under the Additional Coverage section of a homeowners policy:
Ordinance or Law
a. You may use up to 10% of the limit of liability that applies to Coverage A for the increased costs you incur due to the enforcement of any ordinance or law which requires or regulates
1) The construction, demolition, remodeling, renovation or repair of that part of a covered building or other structure damaged by a Peril Insured Against;
2) The demolition and reconstruction of the undamaged part of a covered building or other structure, when that building or other structure must be totally demolished because of damage by a Peril Insured Against to another part of that covered building or other structure; or
3) The remodeling, removal or replacement of the portion of the undamaged part of a covered building or other structure necessary to complete the remodeling, repair or replacement of that part of the covered building or other structure damaged by a Peril Insured Against.
To trigger coverage, there must first be direct physical damage by a peril insured against (e.g., windstorm, fire, lightning) to covered property. If a peril insured against causes direct physical damage to a covered structure, then local building codes may require undamaged portions of the building to be demolished and replaced to ensure code compliance. The costs to demolish and remove undamaged portions of a building can be extremely high.
There are a couple of code requirements Florida homeowners should be aware of:
Florida Building Code §706.1.1:
Not more than 25 percent of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12-month period unless the entire existing roofing system or roof section is replaced to conform to requirements of this code.
Florida Building Code §R301.2.1.2:
Exterior glazed openings in buildings located in windborne debris regions shall be protected from windborne debris. Glazed opening protection for windborne debris shall meet the requirements of the Large Missile Test of ASTM E1996 and ASTM E1886 as modified in Section 301.2.1.2.1, TAS 201, 202 and 203, or AAMA 506, as applicable. Garage door glazed opening protection for windborne debris shall meet the requirements of an approved impact-resisting standard or ANSI/DASMA 115.
Windborne debris region is defined as:
Areas within hurricane-prone regions located in accordance with one of the following:
1. Within 1 mile (1.61 km) of the coastal mean high water line where the ultimate design wind speed, Vult, is 130 mph (58 m/s) or greater.
2. In areas where the ultimate design wind speed, Vult, is 140 mph (63.6 m/s) or greater; or Hawaii.
In Florida, if a homeowner lives within one mile of the coast then building officials may require the home to have impact resistant windows and/or sliding glass doors capable of withstanding up to 130mph – 140mph wind speeds depending on the location of the property. Similarly, a homeowner’s roof that requires repair or replacement of more than 25% of the roof section or area may need to be replaced in its entirety. This is all to say, if a dwelling’s roofing system and/or exterior windows are damaged from a peril insured against (e.g., Hurricane Irma) then local officials may not allow simple repairs if this means the dwelling is noncompliant with building code.
The moral of the story: the insured needs to assess the necessary repairs and potential increase in costs to comply with current building codes. 10% of dwelling coverage is generally incorporated into the policy limits. A separate endorsement with an increased limit of liability may be necessary depending on the location of the insured property and whether the dwelling is in an older, historical, or generally restrictive zone.
In sum, ordinance or law coverage is an important coverage to any property insurance policy. If you have any questions regarding the importance, purpose, or necessary amount of ordinance or law coverage, please contact a property insurance professional.