Georgia as many other states through the years have developed better insurance codes and laws to protect and benefit insureds. An example are the changes that have occurred regarding the Board of Directors discretion to purchase insurance policies with limited coverage.
In the late 1980s a Georgia appellate court held that the board of directors purchase additional insurance policy that would include repairs to exterior walls. Then in 2008, the Georgia Condominium Act (GCA) established that all condominium associations had to purchase insurance policies that would cover all repairs to exterior walls. The GCA provided a more specific list for liability on behalf of the board of directors that was no longer a discretionary act regarding common elements of condominiums.
Under Fleetwood v. Wieuca North Condominium Ass’n, 182 Ga. App 15 (1987), the Court of Appeals held that condominium board of directors can have within the parameters of their discretion whether to purchase structural insurance in addition to that required for fire, hazard, and public liability. In this case, Plaintiff sued to recover the expense she incurred repairing the exterior wall of her condominium unit and also sued to recover damages for breach of duty by the association to maintain adequate insurance coverage on the property. Defendant alleged no liability for the repairs made by Plaintiff because these repairs were within the Board’s discretion under the condominium declaration and bylaws.
The condominium declaration and bylaw provided a common expense fund to be maintained and utilized for “the expense of maintenance, operation, repair or replacement of the common areas and facilities including but not limited to … preservation or repair of… building exterior…” but it also specified that the expenditures were to be made from time to time when the Board of Directors deemed appropriate.1 Plaintiff alleged that when she purchased the condominium unit there were indications the Board had previously made repairs to the exterior wall and therefore was liable for the current repairs.
The court held that the language of the condominium declaration was unambiguous and repairs to exterior walls of individual condominium units were not mandatory and previous repairs did not obligate the association to make future repairs because it is under the Board’s discretion.
Under Georgia’s Condominium Act, all condominium associations are required to carry casualty, general liability and premises liability policies, as well as any other coverage as specified in the condominium instruments or authorized by the board of directors.2 Under the GCA condominium insurance must include without limitations all portions of the common elements in the building including and not limited to all foundations, roofs, roof structures, and exterior walls, including windows, doors and framing therefor, and all convertible space within the building. Since July 1, 2008, Board of Directors have been required to purchase insurance policies with coverage to each condominium unit regardless of who is responsible for maintaining them under the condominium instruments.
Georgia condominium unit owners and board of directors should be aware of these important changes under the insurance code.