Most condominium associations are constantly working on their buildings and property. General maintenance, landscaping, cleaning, and minor repairs are among some of the most time consuming daily tasks. While these repairs may seem minor to many, thoroughly documenting major repairs can be very important during a subsequent insurance claim.
Many associations in south Florida remember Hurricane Andrew all too well. The widespread devastation left many people homeless and kept construction crews busy for years. Unfortunately, the chaos that followed left many associations without documentation of the repairs performed.
In most cases, the construction was completed and there was little need for the documentation of hurricane repairs. Then, during the 2004-2005 hurricane season, many of the same associations were hit hard again by strong storms.
In the aftermath of the storms, many insurance companies began to question associations on prior storm damage and repairs. Most insurance policies do not cover “pre-existing damage” and many carriers opined that the damage from previous storms was not repaired correctly; or at all.
Some associations had documentation to prove that the work was completed and was done properly, but some did not. Those that did not have documentation of the previous work performed had a much harder time getting the amounts owed from their current insurer. Often, these cases went into litigation or were significantly drawn out, forcing the association to wait for money necessary to fix their property.
Documentation that an association should keep varies depending on the type of work that is performed. One good solution for an association is to ask the general contractor for a complete copy of their file at the conclusion of the construction. Architects, engineers, and other professionals who work on a project should also have detailed files that the association may find helpful in a subsequent claim.
Just like a homeowner, an association’s most valuable possession is almost always the property. While it may seem burdensome to keep all of this information for many years, having it can prove invaluable in the future.