One week after Hurricane Irma and we Southwest Floridians continue our effort to clean up the mess left behind. That work may include making claims on homeowner’s insurance policies as a result of damage to homes. If you have made a claim or are considering making a claim, don’t forget about ordinance and law coverage that may be included in your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Ordinance and law coverage is insurance coverage for loss caused by the enforcement of ordinances or laws regulating construction and repair of damaged buildings. Under the Florida Building Code and local ordinances, older buildings that are damaged may need to integrate upgraded systems, like electrical, plumbing, window, door, roof or HVAC, into the repair plan before the local building department will approve a permit for reconstruction or repair. Those upgraded systems can add many thousands of dollars to the cost of repairs or reconstruction.

Prior to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, most insurance policies contained an exclusion for law and ordinance coverage. During Hurricane Andrew, when a large number of older homes were destroyed, many policyholders discovered that the cost of reconstructing their homes to comply with the current Florida building codes and local ordinances exceeded the coverage limits of their homeowner’s policies.

In response to Hurricane Andrew’s devastation, in 1993, the Florida Legislature required insurance companies to make law and ordinance coverage available to all homeowner’s insurance policyholders in Florida. According to Florida Statute § 627.7011, the offer of law and ordinance coverage must be made at policy issuance, first renewal and every three years thereafter. Insurers are required to offer policyholders the option of purchasing law and ordinance coverage for either 25 percent or 50 percent of the dwelling limit. If a policyholder chooses to decline law and ordinance coverage, it must do so in writing.

If your homeowner’s insurance policy includes ordinance and law coverage and you suffered damage to your home during Hurricane Irma, you may be entitled to up to 50 percent additional coverage for the cost of making necessary repairs in accordance with the current Florida Building Code and local ordinances.

If you have questions about deciphering your homeowner’s insurance policy or how you may benefit from your law and ordinance coverage, please contact us at 239-514-1000. We look forward to helping you and rebuilding out community after the storm.

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Alexandra Deane Gabel is an associate with Grant Fridkin Pearson, P.A. and has practiced in Naples since 2012. Alexandra is a member of the firm’s civil litigation and business law groups. Prior to joining the firm, Alexandra practiced in securities arbitration and real property transactions and land use with another Naples law firm.