I am an Officer, Director or Property Manager for a Condominium or HOA
Few events as the member of an Association Board of Directors can be more difficult than dealing with loss of or damage to your common elements and your members' homes. You are a volunteer, but are treated like an employee. You are not an attorney but are charged with knowledge of the law and the legal effect of your governing documents. You are not an architect, engineer and a contractor but you need to manage the rebuilding of units and common elements. You are not an insurance adjuster or claims examiner but have to avoid the many pitfalls in the world of property damage and liability insurance. All of this occurs while you are rebuilding from whatever losses you personally sustained from a catastrophic weather event. Let us help. We provide the following services which can assist you in this tough time:
Review of your insurance policies
The Association purchased a set of insurance policies to cover damage to your limited and general common elements and for other association property. In some communities, your insurance also covers the damage to members' property. These policies are written by the insurance industry and can be difficult to navigate. We urge everyone, whether or not you suffered damage during a hurricane, to set a consultation, for a flat fee, to have us review your policy with you. We can explain some of the common traps contained in the policy and direct you to provisions that are buried in the policy, which you need to be aware of. Our goal is to give you an understanding of what is insured, what is not insured and your basic obligations under your policy.
Working with you and your insurance adjuster
Please understand that your insurance adjuster is a trained professional that works for the insurance company. We cannot stress enough that the person sent out to your association to view the damages and the people you speak with are contracted by your insurance company. These are not people who work for you and they do not necessarily work for your benefit. We can help bridge the gap between you and your insurance company. You have paid too much for your insurance to have coverage denied, claims reduced or to take the blame for damages that should be covered by your insurance. Let us help you with this dialogue.
Claims filing and supplementation
Your insurance claim(s) must be timely filed and supplemented as you discover new damage. A frequent excuse for denial of a claim by an insurer is the failure to timely report or discover damage. Let us review the process with you so you can act with the diligence that your policy requires.
Insurance company acting in bad faith
In Florida, the law requires insurers to act in good faith throughout the claims process. If an insurer acts slowly, wrongfully denies coverage, uses improper or deceptive acts or has unqualified personnel perform repairs, the insurer may be in violation of the Florida bad faith laws. The bad faith laws in Florida are tricky and full of procedural hurdles. We are familiar with this process and can help determine whether your association has a viable bad faith claim.
Your common elements and unit owner property needs to be secured and your losses mitigated so that you can preserve as much of your structures and personal property as possible. Will doing work outside of your insurance void your coverage? Will the insurance company reimburse you for these repairs? Allow us to guide you on these gray area issues.
The companies hired by my insurance company are not doing the work timely or properly
Insurance companies will have 'preferred providers' to perform repair and remediation work. This does not mean that they are the best or most qualified for the job. They may work slowly, not show up at scheduled times or may do a poor job. Do not accept inferior work and do not accept the 'we will get to you when we get to you' work ethic. We can help push the buttons to move the work along, and, in the event of defective work, can pursue the service providers for corrective action and damages.
Someone else is claiming damages on my insurance policy. Is this even possible?
Yes, it is. If a tree or something on your property falls on a member's unit or on a neighboring property, the association may be liable or your insurance may be pursued by that member or your neighbor or their insurance company. There are infinite scenarios where a third party can file a claim against your insurance for something that happened to their property. We have experience in dealing with third party claims and knowing the parameters and the process is essential in successfully coping with the liability.
Unlicensed and Troubled Contractors
Unfortunately, people take advantage of those in need. Individuals will look official, act official and have a great sales pitch. We have experience in construction industry licensing, disciplinary actions and construction industry insurance and bonding. Please consult with us before becoming a victim of an unlicensed, troubled or uninsured contractor.
I want the work done, where do I sign?
Whether it is an insurance company or a contractor, before anyone does work or pays out money, you are going to sign a contract, a waiver, a release or some other form of hard copy or electronic paperwork. The legal ramifications of doing so are tremendous and we find many clients come in after signing documents to find that many of their legal rights and remedies are now gone. Contractors also have the ability to lien your property for work done if the insurance company does not pay them. We can review documents, releases, waivers and construction contracts with you and explain the legal ramifications of signing these documents, along with setting up measures to minimize the risk of construction liens. We can also assist in the negotiation of contracts with the people and companies doing work on your home. Further, we can assist you with what contracts may violate your obligations under the governing documents or what contracts you do or do not have authority to enter into without a member vote.
Does it matter that the Association or a unit owner has a mortgage on any of the real property?
Absolutely. The mortgage contains complex provisions for what happens in the event of a loss due to a hurricane, and the lender may largely control the process by which the property and any structure is repaired or rebuilt. The lender may also be an additional insured on the insurance policy. This can slow down or alter the course of the insurance payouts and timely getting the work done. We have experience dealing with lenders in these instances and want to help you navigate the process so that your lender is only exercising the control over the work and insurance proceeds that they are legally entitled to.
Compliance with the governing documents of your community.
As an association you are governed by a complex set of governing documents, statutes and administrative code provisions. Your obligations to each member and the membership as a whole is the paramount focus of these regulations. These concepts and the laws surrounding them are very technical. We have been through this from both the member's side and the association's side. We can assist you in understanding the process and working with your insurer and each unit owner on your obligations and the work that must be performed. We can also assist in determining whether or not special assessments are necessary and how to best go about implementing them. Further, this is a time where architectural control is important but must not unreasonably delay unit owner repairs. Allow us to introduce you to methods to streamline the process while still maintaining the integrity of the community.
Preservation of evidence of your loss
When you incur a loss, and at each point during the repairs being made, you need to make a record. We can help explain to you the best practices to use to preserve your evidence of the existence of a loss and that the damage was repaired. This is also crucial where repairs are not made properly and we can assist you with that defective construction claim.
Preparing for the next storm or weather event
We have dealt with property and casualty claims and know what steps are prudent and necessary to take. Let us help you in formulating a plan to put you in a better position should you ever suffer another loss due to damage to your property and that of your unit owners or members.
Master associations and sub-associations
We have experience with building and maintaining the proper relationship and respective obligations of master and sub associations during these stressful times. Each have their role, but risk litigation for overstepping their bounds. We can introduce you to collaborative strategies that make for better legal decision making.