If a natural disaster, like a hurricane or lightning storm, affects a condominium or community association, typically it will be the property manager and/or the board of directors who are responsible for investigating then filing an insurance claim. Most board of directors are not professional manages, but rather owners and volunteers, making reading the insurance policy and making recommendations a tough task.
Condominium ownership is a type of common ownership that is created by defined by Florida Statutes, as well as the association or condominium bylaws or declarations. These documents are essentially contracts that obligates the unit owners and community management. So, to file an insurance claim for a condo or community association, tasks should be broken down into finite manageable steps:
Determine the Insureds and the Applicable Policies of Insurance
First step to assess a condominium or association loss, the association or its directors must determine where the damage occurred. What the damage caused within association property? Or did the damage extend to individual owner’s units? Where the damage occurred and its severity will determine who are the insureds, and whether a loss is a covered peril under the applicable policies. In Florida, like most states, associations are required to insure their commons elements and buildings to some extent, including portions of an individual unit owner’s property when the individual units are separated by horizontal boundaries (i.e., walls).
Verify Insurance Coverage
Once the cause of a loss has been determined, severity or extent of loss and responsibility for the loss allocated between association and unit owners, the next step in the process is to review the insurance policies that may provide potential coverage. Items that need to be reviewed and considered in depth:
- Primacy of policies: association vs. individual owners
- Terms of coverage
- Limits of coverage
- Exclusions to coverage
- Exceptions to Exclusions of coverage
- Co-Insurance Provisions
When multiple insurance polices are in play, coverage and gaps in coverage may be confusing. As such, it is a good idea to prepare a diagram to define and compare insurance coverages, exclusions, endorsements, and limitations in each insurance policy that could provide coverage to the peril.
As is true with any loss or disaster affecting property, condominium or association property, the association should first identify and document the damage to the property. Photos. Notes. Recordings. Next, the scope of the loss needs to be analyzed and measured against each potentially applicable insurance policy.
Settlement and Recovery
In the context of an association or condominium loss, it is likely the association and not the individual unit owners that will likely be the decision makers and loss payee under the policies, thereby making the association and its directors the decision makers with authority to accept or reject proposed repair or ultimately decide to accept the settlement offer on a claim.
Need More Information?
If your property insurance claim has been denied, delayed or underpaid, contact LeavenLaw’s insurance dispute advocates to schedule a free consultation. (866) 514-0556. Call today.