All about code upgrades - the most important thing you'll ever read . . .

. . . about law & Ordinance (but not the kind you put in artillery)

You live in a really nice, but not really new home. Your dishwasher breaks and floods your kitchen. You call your insurer and say, "Hello, can you help?"  You may even feel a little sheepish, but don't--you paid your premiums, and this is what insurance is for. Trust us, the insurers are doing just fine.

While you're waiting for the check, you'll likely call a contractor who will come over and say, right, looks like it'll cost $19,472, or something like that. And you'll sign the contract, move your food over to your neighbor's place, take a deep breath, and hope the contractor knows what she's doing.

A day or two later you'll get a check from your insurer, with a check for $1,274. First you'll feel nauseated. Then you'll call your insurer, who will tell you that, sadly, all but $1,274 dollars of the repair is--and they will use these words--"code upgrades."

What they mean is that to fix your kitchen, and not lose her license, the contractor will have to fix not just the water damage, but also make some changes to the plumbing and electrical systems to bring them up to snuff. The insurer will point you to provisions in the policy which say, "Thank you, but we don't pay for increased costs relating to the enforcement of building codes."

So, good news/bad news:

Bad news is that every insurer in California uses this exclusion to save claims costs, and because many houses are old and its systems do not meet the current building codes, these costs can swallow your claim.

Good news is that under California law, insurers are supposed to pay you to fix your house, without regard for these sorts of normal upgrades. The amount you are owed should not exclude normal upgrades. We are fighting this fight across the state, and winning.

We hope a few years from now you'll get that check for the full repair cost. In the mean time - stay dry!