The devastating tornados that ripped through portions of southeast this month have already led to over sixty thousand claims filed in Alabama alone. While many automatically think of condominium associations as the high-rise vacation destinations along the Gulf Coats, many condominium associations and HOA’s are located throughout the states. In Alabama, some of the worst hit areas around Birmingham and Tuscaloosa have some of the highest concentrations of condominiums in the state.
Tornado damage can be tough to discern, and many times engineers and roofing experts are vital to the investigation. According to Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley, there are over 2,000 insurance adjusters in the state and more on the way. As areas open, however, this number will likely need to increase significantly to give policyholders a thorough adjustment of the damage and a fair payment for the claim.
Associations especially should be careful to ensure that their insurer fully investigates each claim. Engineers, contractors, adjusters, and roofing consultants should be a common sight at almost every claim to find the subtle damages that can go unnoticed otherwise.
Unfortunately for policyholders, options in hiring professionals to work on their behalf is limited in Alabama. Public Insurance Adjusters are not permitted in the state and the negotiation of an insurance claim is generally considered the unlicensed practice of law by anyone who is not an attorney.
As board members, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of your unit owners. This means making sure that your insurance claim is given the attention that it deserves. If you do not believe that your insurance carrier is giving you the service you expect, you should immediately take action. Sometimes contacting a claims manager in charge of your individual adjuster can make a difference. If that does not work, you might want to consider contacting an experienced attorney.
Tornado claims can be complex and difficult, especially for condominium associations and HOA’S with large properties. Directors, managers, and owners must be proactive to make sure that their property is fixed properly and quickly so they can return to business as usual.