Can an insurance carrier force a homeowner to make home improvements?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Nov 16, 2012

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Insurance Question from Earlington, KY

Asked on 11/16/2012

Can an insurance carrier force a homeowner to make home improvements? We received a letter from our insurance carrier saying we had until the middle of January to add handrails to our front steps and get our roof repaired ( although I do not see any problems with our roof and we don't have any leaks).

Answer given on November 16, 2012

Most insurance companies will do an inspection of an insured home both at the original writing of the policy and sometimes a few years later. This is pretty standard practice throughout the industry. If, during the inspection, the insurance company finds situations which can result in a potential loss, they will ask that the policy owner make repairs or upgrades to the property. They will usually give at least 60 days to make the repairs, and longer if possible.In your case they have asked that handrails be installed at the front steps. This is a safety issue and without a handrail there is potential for a slip and fall by a guest or visitor. It is probably also required by your city or town, again for safety’s sake.Your insurance company also seems to feel the roof needs repair. If you don’t feel repairs are needed to the roof, you should contact a roofing company and ask them to inspect the roof. If they agree with you, ask them to put it in writing and send it to the insurance company. They may accept the statement from the roofer and waive that requirement.

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