Your first impression after reading the title of this article may be: “well that is obvious since there are residents that live within condominium associations.” Condominium claims are sometimes referred to simply as commercial claims when, in fact, they are classified by Florida Statute as “residential.”
Florida Statute §627.4025(1) states that:
Residential coverage includes both personal lines residential coverage, which consists of the type of coverage provided by homeowner’s, mobile home owner’s, dwelling, tenant’s, condominium unit owner’s, cooperative unit owner’s, and similar policies, and commercial lines residential coverage, which consists of the type of coverage provided by condominium association, cooperative association, apartment building, and similar policies, including policies covering the common elements of a homeowner’s association. Residential coverage for personal lines and commercial lines as set forth in this section includes policies that provide coverage for particular perils such as windstorm and hurricane or coverage for insurer insolvency or deductibles.
This is an important distinction to note since Florida Statute §627.70131 [the Insurer Accountability Act] and its subsections apply to “any residential property insurer.” F.S.A. §627.70131(4) and (5)(b)1. The Insurer Accountability Act imposes several time sensitive obligations upon insurers with respect to claims, and condominium associations can avail themselves of these favorable requirements due to this classification involving “residential” coverage.
Specifically, within fourteen (14) days of receiving a communication regarding a claim, an insurer shall review and acknowledge receipt of that communication. F.S.A. §627.70131(1)(a). This fourteen (14) day timeframe even applies to communications sent to an insurer’s agent. The insurer’s acknowledgement during that fourteen (14) day period includes an obligation to provide “necessary claim forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone number.” F.S.A. §627.70131(2). The “necessary claim forms” language logically would be interpreted to include proof of loss forms that are requested in the claim.
The last of the time sensitive obligations imposed upon insurers from this statute is a very important ninety (90) day time period for the insurer to pay or deny the claim. F.S.A. §627.70131(5)(a). The ninety (90) day time period begins to run from the date that the insurer receives notice of the claim.
Condominium associations should avail themselves of these benefits in the event of an insurance claim. The benefits to the association and residents could help both achieve a quicker recovery.