You may not know it, but if you are living in a community managed by an HOA or condo association, then the insurance coverage which protects your property and building from losses is relatively complex.
This is because there is one policy, often known as a Master Policy, for the community which covers the buildings and common area, and another policy for your unit which covers your floors, drywall, and everything else contained within.
Having the two insurance policies is not only more complex, but it also makes it easier for each of the insurance companies to try to “pass the buck” to each other by denying coverage or claiming that the other policy should be responsible for damages.
Remember, it’s always cheaper and easier for an insurer not to pay, so they often will try their hardest to avoid writing you a check. It happens all too often that an insurer will deny covering valid damage and defend that decision by manipulating the language used in the policy to “convince” you that the denial is legitimate.
If you have not done so yet, now may be a good time to go down to the community office and ask to review the association insurance documents to find out who is responsible for damages under various loss event scenarios.
However, when an insured loss event occurs, the condo documents must defer to state law to assess who is responsible for damages. Fla. Stat. section 718.111 states that if the cause of damage is not the result of an insured event, then the condominium or association documents, and the respective repair and maintenance provisions, will apply. Fla. Stat. section 718.111 provides that after an insured property loss, the association is required to cover the cost for:
- All portions of the condominium property as originally installed or replacement of like kind and quality, in accordance with the original plans and specifications; and
- All alterations or additions made to the condominium property or association property pursuant to Fla. Stat. §718.113(2).
If your community suffers a major loss to the common areas, such as the loss of a roof, as a resident you should expect the process to not be a quick and seamless one. While in a perfect world the community’s insurance will quickly provide a settlement payment that fully covers the loss, in the real world it seldom works this way.
We know that insurers delay some valid claims and outright deny other valid claims, sometimes without providing a reason to the manager of the insured community, leading to disputes and delaying the needed repairs to fix the damage.
Whenever a community finds themselves hitting a wall in their efforts to get a claim paid, they should immediately seek the assistance and counsel of an insurance claims attorney. An insurance claims attorney understands how the whole process works and has experience in navigating through insurance claim disputes. We have staff available Mon-Fri to answer any questions you may have related to condo insurance claim disputes and commercial property damage.