Nuanced Aspects of Hurricane Claims: Civil Authority, Ordinance or Law, and Mobile Home Claims | Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP

The adjustment of hurricane claims sometimes involve discrete issues regarding either special coverages under insurance policies or different types of structures governed by a patchwork of federal and state laws.

Civil Authority

Civil Authority is a coverage under many homeowner and commercial policies that may provide loss of use coverage to an insured who has suffered no physical loss to insured property but whose access to insured property has been completely prohibited, not merely restricted. Generally subject to a waiting period and a limited coverage period, Civil Authority coverage can be triggered where physical loss or damage to other property occurs and there is thereafter an order by a government entity prohibiting access because of that damage to other property.

Adjusting Civil Authority claims can be complex given the various authorities that can, and sometimes do, issue orders governing access to property. Careful consideration of the text, the effect, and the timing of the order is necessary in order to properly adjust a Civil Authority claim.

Ordinance or Law

Ordinance or Law is generally an optional, additional coverage under homeowner and commercial policies. Limited Increased Cost of Construction coverage may be available under standard ISO commercial policies that functions similar to Ordinance or Law coverage.

Ordinance or Law coverage involves a necessary increase in the cost of repair or replacement of property because of the enforcement of a legal requirement to upgrade the property to meet current building regulations. Generally, this involves application of applicable building codes, fire codes, flood codes, and, sometimes, environmental protection regulations. Commonly, disputes with Ordinance or Law coverage involve the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 50% substantial improvement/substantial damage requirement and Florida’s 25% rule for existing roofs.

Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are subject to a patchwork of federal and state law. The federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development regulations govern construction of mobile homes. Section 320.822(2)(c), Florida Statutes references “The Mobile Home Repair and Remodeling Code and Used Recreational Vehicle Code” under the Florida Administrative Code, limiting the regulations on the repairs or remodels of mobile homes to be no more stringent than was required for the manufacture of the structure.

Florida Administrative Code Rule 15C-2.0081 sets out the Mobile/Manufactured Home Repair and Remodeling code requirements. Repair or remodeling of a mobile/manufactured home shall require the use of material and design equivalent to the original construction. Structure shall include, but not be limited to, roof system, walls, floor system, windows and exterior doors of the mobile/manufactured home. Electrical and plumbing repair and replacements shall require the use of material and design equivalent to the original construction.

In addition to these regulations, the Florida Building Code provides that mobile homes are subject to local floodplain management ordinances. The Florida Building Code also provides that structures appurtenant to mobile homes are subject to the Florida Building Code and must be self-supported because modifications to and alterations of mobile homes are restricted within the Florida Statutes.

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