Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is currently a Category Four storm and is expected to intensify, bringing with it potential storm surges, excessive rainfall, and damaging winds. With Hurricane Florence quickly approaching the East Coast and posing a serious threat to the State of Virginia, it’s a good time for condominium owners to refresh their memories about what coverages may be available following a loss.
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After Hurricane Irma and Maria caused damage to many condominiums in Puerto Rico, it is the Board of Directors’ job to search for estimates and determine how the damage will be repair. Many will be limited by the amount of compensation approved by their insurers and will be forced to repair only the necessary parts of the common areas. It is important for any decision to be clear, in good faith and not exceed the authorization of the Board of Directors in the repair of damage caused by the hurricane.


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In Essex Insurance Co. v. DiMucci Development Corp. of Ponce Inlet Inc., U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. recently held that Evanston Insurance Company has no duty to defend a builder in a lawsuit alleging construction defects at one of its Florida condominium complexes based on an exclusion in the policy for damage to the developer’s own work.1


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A federal district court in Washington recently decided that a claim against the owner of a condominium unit arising from the owner’s installation of a hardwood floor without the necessary permission (as spelled out in the Condo association’s bylaws), did not amount to an “occurrence” under the owner’s insurance policy.1


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Several weeks ago I blogged about the way insurers sometimes use “other insurance” provisions to argue that they are not responsible for paying for a loss because “other insurance” is required to do so. In today’s blog I will address a similar and related topic that comes up in scenarios involving condominium and homeowners’ associations.

Condominium Owner Insurance (COI) policies are designed to insure everything inside the condo, while recognizing the Home Owners’ Association (HOAs) will insure the common areas. The HOA coverage is often referred to as "walls out" coverage, because everything within the walls of the owner’s individual unit is usually that person’s individual responsibility (But in some condo policies, the interior, "bare" walls are covered by the HOA master policy as well). Generally, the HOA’s governing documents (CC&Rs) should typically state exactly which areas the HOA policy insures.


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Damages caused by faulty workmanship has always been a hot topic in insurance law. In the Fall of 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Court stated that insurers are liable for damages arising out of a subcontractor’s defective work.1 Given this is such highly debated topic, it is not surprising that the Supreme Court of New Jersey has agreed to weigh in on whether consequential damages stemming from a subcontractor’s faulty work on a condominium complex constitute an occurrence under a general contractor’s insurance policy.


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Many of you are familiar with the following scenario—an insurance claim is denied because there is no coverage. Subsequently, the insured pursues a claim against their insurance broker for failing to obtain the coverage requested and pursues damages against the insurance broker for the insurance coverage that would have been available but for the negligent conduct of the insurance broker.

However, what many of you may not be familiar with is a similar claim that can be made against the Home Owner Association (HOA) where the HOA is required to obtain specified types of insurance coverage for the benefits of its members (according to the terms and conditions of the of CC&Rs) but fails to do so.


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As I have noted in the past, the appraisal process has become a hot topic in the property insurance world in the past few years. Colorado has become ground zero for many of these disputes. While many states have statutory or appellate precedent to define the scope and workings of the appraisal process, Colorado is one of the few that does not.


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