There are thousands of homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominium associations throughout Florida. The size and responsibilities of these groups can vary from community to community, but most of them have some kind of insurance policy to protect their assets.
Due to some extreme weather events, such as hurricanes or flooding in certain parts of the state, insurance policies can be extremely important to HOAs and condo associations. These groups can pay hefty premiums for the following forms of protection:
- Property damage – This type of policy would serve to protect utilities, property, and common areas shared by the HOA or condo association community. In the event of a fire, flood, hurricane, or sinkhole collapse, a property damage policy would pay for the cost of repairs that could easily run into the millions of dollars.
- Criminal damage – These policies may protect a HOA or condo association from graffiti, vandalism, or arson, but certain criminal policies may also serve to protect the association from fiduciary mismanagement by a board member or other officer. These policies are also known as fidelity insurance policies.
- Liability claims – An individual injured by a slip and fall accident, equipment failure, or violent crime on the property of that HOA or condo association may file a business liability lawsuit. This type of insurance can help cover the cost of any settlements in such cases.
While homeowners insurance or condo association insurance can be costly, it is generally seen as a worthwhile investment. However, many boards of such associations are shocked when insurance companies do not provide adequate compensation after a claim has been filed. Some common issues that HOAs and condo associations encounter when filing an insurance claim include:
- Delayed payment – Florida Statute § 627.70131 specifically states that an “insurer shall pay or deny such claim or portion of the claim” within 90 days of receipt of notice of a “policyholder’s initial, reopened, or additional claim,” but states insurance companies do allow some leeway if “the non-payment is caused by factors beyond the insurer’s control”.
- Rejection of claim – There can be several reasons why a claim is rejected, including but not limited to lack of evidence, certain accidents not covered by certain policies or policies being canceled due to premiums not being paid on time.
- Insufficient settlement amount – The insurance company can undervalue a claim and offer an amount that is significantly lower than the actual cost of the damage.
- Negligent defense in liability claims – In certain general liability claims, an insurance company can leave a policyholder with a settlement that exceeds the policy limits.
Insurance companies investigate claims to limit their own payouts and find reasons why claims fall under exclusions that are not covered by certain policies. A VvE or condominium association does not have to accept these kinds of outcomes just like that. An experienced attorney can negotiate to seek a more favorable recovery or take the insurance company to court if they fail to provide a satisfactory amount.