A few weeks back, David Thompson, with the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA), wrote on the FAIA web site about “The Dirty Dozen” condominium insurance exclusions. Anyone who has access to the FAIA web site should definitely give it a read.

Thompson was writing about Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f)3, which specifically enumerates twelve items that must be excluded from a condominium master insurance policy. Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f)3 states:

The coverage must exclude all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit. Such property and any insurance thereupon is the responsibility of the unit owner.

According to Thompson, remembering “The Dirty Dozen” exclusions is an easy way for condominium boards to field questions from unit owners about what is covered under the master policy. To spell out those exclusions listed in the statute, they are:

  1. Personal Property
  2. Floor Coverings
  3. Wall Coverings
  4. Ceiling Coverings
  5. Electrical Fixtures
  6. Appliances
  7. Water Heaters
  8. Water Filters
  9. Built-in Cabinets
  10. Countertops
  11. Window Treatments
  12. Window Treatment Components

Remembering this list is a great quick and “dirty” way to field questions regarding condominium insurance coverage, but associations should keep in the back of their mind that the list potentially runs deeper. Courts will use different methods to interpret the language of the statute in order to determine if an item is or is not covered. These methods are often discussed as rules of “statutory interpretation” or “statutory construction.”

For example, items expressly stated in the statute, such as water heaters and water filters, will likely always be excluded based on the “plain meaning” of the statute. What about a water softener? It is not expressly excluded, but a court may read it into the statute based on a “ejusdem generis” interpretation, which includes other items of the same class. Now what about an air conditioning unit? Is it an electrical fixture or an appliance? What about a water pump or other plumbing fixture? As items get further away from the defined list in the statute, the less likely it is that a court will find it excluded under the statute. Also, keep in mind that an insurance policy may exclude additional items from coverage.