Protective safeguard provisions can lead to denials of coverage. Condominium officers and boards, their insurance agents, and especially their property managers should be very wary when the requirement of protective safeguards are included in a policy or mentioned in an application. A failure to have protective safeguards in place and working may leave a significant condominium property loss completely uninsured.
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
The coverages, limitations, exclusions and exceptions to exclusions buried in all those pages of property insurance policies can leave your head spinning when trying to make sense of it all. It can feel like trying to navigate through a complicated maze or fit all of the pieces of an intricate puzzle together without forcing them. This was demonstrated recently in a federal case from the Northern District of Florida, Bartram, LLC v. Landmark American Insurance Company, 2012 WL 1072207 (N.D. Fla. March 30, 2012).
If asked what an ordinary person might select for casual reading, one might think of books, magazines, or newspapers, but probably not insurance policies. If an ordinary person were to read an insurance policy, what would he or she think it meant? In states that employ the “reasonable expectations doctrine” for insurance policies, courts are often faced with this question. Colorado is one of the states that considers the reasonable expectation of the insured when interpreting insurance policies, and a recent condominium case there took a grammatical approach to determine what an ordinary reader would have understood the condominium policy to have covered.
A few weeks ago, in my post, David Thompson’s Dirty Dozen Condo Insurance Exclusions, I wrote about property elements that were excluded from the master condominium policy under Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f). I left that post a little open-ended by not nailing down how specific property items that are not expressly excluded in the statute would be treated, and I received a few questions following that post. To recap, Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f)3 excludes from a master condominium insurance policy: (1) “personal property”, (2) a list of specific items such as floor coverings and electrical appliances, and (3) items that are “located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.”
A few weeks back, David Thompson, with the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA), wrote on the FAIA web site about “The Dirty Dozen” condominium insurance exclusions. Anyone who has access to the FAIA web site should definitely give it a read.
In today’s down economy, more and more homes, condominiums, and buildings are becoming vacant each day. Recently, many national news sources picked up a story out of Ft. Meyers, where one family was the sole resident of a 32-story condominium building. While the family undoubtedly enjoyed exclusive use of the pools and other amenities, this freedom was not without problems. The family reported that they often found themselves dealing with trespassers and vandals roaming the empty building.