A tropical storm swoops through your community, causing a lot of damage to your windows. Your homeowners insurance company files a claim and promises to pay for replacement windows. When you get to the actual work, you find that hurricane shutters and impact-resistant glass are required for all windows in your area.

Your homeowners policy will cover the cost of replacing your windows with identical ones. It won’t pay for the cost of buying shutters or upgrading the glass.

An ordinance or law coverage is useful in such situations.

What’s law coverage or ordinance?

Ordinance, or law coverage, is insurance that covers your home to comply with current building codes.

The homeowners policy is intended to restore your home to the condition it was before damage occurred, and not to make any improvements. Your policy won’t cover the cost of additional wind-resistant roofing or wiring if you have to comply with new building codes. The gap could be filled by law or ordinance coverage.

Did You Know…

Dwelling coverage covers repairs to your home’s structure.

While your homeowners insurance policy may only cover a limited amount of ordinance and law coverage, you can often add more to your policy.

What does law or ordinance insurance cover?

Law coverage or the Ordinance of covers three major categories of expenses that local building codes may trigger.

Repairing a damaged area of your home

As mentioned above, an ordinance or law coverage may pay for unexpected upgrades when you’re repairing damaged parts of your house.

Example: One night dinner goes horribly wrong and your kitchen lights up. The pipes leading to your kitchen sink have been damaged. A contractor will tell you that your plumbing system is decades old. The necessary updates could be covered by law or ordinance, subject to your policy limit.

Rebuilding/updating an undamaged area of your home

Sometimes, updating your building code might mean that you have to make repairs to areas of your home that weren’t damaged. This can also be done through law or ordinance coverage.

Example: A more serious fire could spread through several rooms before firefighters can put it out. A house with more than 50% damage must be demolished. Your homeowners policy will usually only pay for the damage to your home. You would have to pay the remainder of the rebuilding costs if there is no ordinance or law coverage.

Another example: Let’s say you have water damage from a burst pipe. You have outdated knob-and tube wiring in your home that must be replaced. This is both in the area where the pipe burst as well as throughout the house. Your homeowners policy won’t likely cover wiring in an undamaged area of your home, but it may be covered under ordinance or law.


A homeowners policy can pay for the removal of debris from your home if it is damaged by a covered event. If your home has only been partially damaged, local law may require you to demolish the remainder. You may be required to have ordinance or law coverage in order to cover the entire cost of demolition and debris removal.

Do You Need Law Coverage?

Building codes, and other local regulations, change frequently. It is worth looking into ordinance or law coverage for homeowners.

Call your agent or check your homeowners policy to determine if you have any coverage. You may be covered by ordinance or law insurance that covers up to 10% of the dwelling coverage limit. If your home’s structure is covered up to $250,000, that means you have $25,000 to comply with local laws and codes.

The higher the limit, however, the more age your home will be. Have you been updating your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems in a while? Your home may not be in compliance with current regulations if this is the case. You might be thankful for a generous ordinance, or a law limit to make necessary changes if something goes wrong.