On March 14, 2018, Caribbean Adjusters International hosted the “Condominium Insurance Forum” at the Marriott Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The forum was divided in two groups of panelists formed by adjusters, brokers, producers and local attorneys with special guest speakers such as Puerto Rico’s Insurance Commissioner (via Skype) and our own William “Chip” Merlin. Important topics were discussed related to claim issues for condominiums on the island.
The forum had two sections. During the first section, panelists discussed the steps that the Board of Directors should follow for their insurance claims and how to avoid fraud. The emphasis was a call for an assembly between the Counsel of Honors and the individual owners and to secure a fidelity bond. A claim by any owner has the power to stop any process or plans made at this assembly. Puerto Rico’s Insurance Commissioner, Javier Rivera, requested all Board of Directors send their claims to his office for him to keep track and work on better alternatives for condominiums to recover and attract new investors.
The second section was by a group of attorneys, including Chip Merlin. Local attorneys expressed their concern for lack of knowledge and capacity for attorneys in Puerto Rico to represent clients on insurance claims. Local attorneys and insureds present at this forum admitted this is a new process for them and made emphasis on the need to acquire professional services from adjusters and attorneys with experience in insurance claims.
On this topic, one of the main discussions was the limitations for insureds to settle claims because arbitration is not an option and mediation in many cases would not be successful, forcing insureds to litigate their claims. Mr. Merlin explained that even when litigation could be the last option for many insureds, for many cases in the past it has been the only successful alternative for recovery and also the best method for obtaining mediation results.