I need to bring my house ‘up to code’. Will my homeowners insurance policy cover the expenses?
UPDATED: Dec 31, 2012
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Asked December 31, 2012
Zoning and construction codes change over time. The practices which were acceptable a few years ago do not always meet the building codes of today. When repairs or other construction is performed on the home, bringing it up to code is a legal necessity because inspectors will not approve the work without doing so.
Keeping the home up to code is generally considered to be one aspect of home maintenance. Just as you are expected to take reasonable care to remove dead limbs or trees, you are also expected to do the work required to keep your home within the zoning codes. If you are purchasing a home which is out of code, your insurance company may even require you to make the necessary upgrades before they will underwrite a policy, primarily because those codes are intended to make the home a safer place to live.
One way to make sure that your insurance will pay for the required changes is to carry full replacement coverage insurance with this coverage written into the policy. This type of policy differs from the more commonly used "Actual Cost Value" policies because it will pay the full cost of returning your home to its originally insured condition regardless of what it costs to do so. Since the code has probably changed since the home was built, bringing it up to code is a necessity for restoring the home's condition.
Read your policy carefully to find out whether bringing the home up to code is mentioned specifically. Your policy may have excluded such coverage, or you may have rider which specifically provides the coverage you need. Since the regulations for insurance are defined by each state, the location you live in may also have an effect on whether bringing your home up to code is a function of your homeowner's insurance policy.
Answered December 31, 2012 by Anonymous