Protecting homeowner association rights after structural damage occurs

Article Courtesy of The South Florida Business Journal

By The Morgan Law Group, P.A.

Published January 13, 2020


After Hurricanes Michael and Irma, the amount of damage that was left behind throughout the state of Florida posed a real problem for condo buildings and HOA communities. These damages were so extensive, and HOA communities across Florida are still trying to recover and receive payment from their insurance companies.

Additionally, while it is true that a disaster can strike at any time, most community associations may not know the totality of the financial consequences, especially when they live in a HOA community. Like most, HOAs count on their insurance policies to provide the coverage they’ll need to rebuild when structural damage occurs. Unfortunately, it may not be that easy, and with over 20,000 unpaid Hurricane Michael-related insurance claims across Florida, it is essential to ensure that your HOA community has sufficient coverage.

Review your HOA insurance policy and its coverage often

All homeowner associations and condo boards should review their existing insurance policies and overall coverages annually to ensure it fits their community’s overall needs and that they are prepared when disaster strikes. This includes knowing the deductibles that apply. Often, there are different and larger policy deductibles for storms, hurricanes, and floods, and it is important to know what exactly is being covered.

HOA property policies should also cover common perils that affect the structure of the building or community that they govern. When reviewing the policy, be sure it includes coverage for:

  • Structural damages to the building, including windows and sliding glass doors.

  • Roof damage, along with gutters and skylights.

  • Damage to common areas, such as parking covers, awnings, lobbies, elevators, swimming pools, tennis/basketball courts, landscaping, and lighting structures.

  • General liability for the association.

Countering HOA and condominium board insurance claims delays and denials

While condominium associations or HOAs each generally carry full coverage insurance, no one is typically prepared for the reality of filing a claim for any type of damage, and the difficulty it can include.

While it may be clear to you that the damage to the building originated from an uncontrollable source or other natural occurrence, complications often arise when it comes time to collect from the insurance company for the damages.

The insurance company will immediately question who is responsible for which damages, especially when those damages are severe, and delays or denials aren’t uncommon in the claim process due to unforeseen reasons.