Making the proper insurance claim to recover damages to your condominium unit following a loss can be a daunting task. The first step to recovery is determining the origin and extent of the damage. Knowing the source of the damage and the extent of the damage will determine coverage and the insurance policies at issue. The next step is to review the applicable insurance policies, association bylaws, and your state’s condominium association statute. These instruments outline required coverages and allocate responsibilities between unit owners and the association. If the damages to an individual unit exceed policy limits then unit owners may find additional coverage after review of the master policy and association bylaws. The largest obstacle to successful recovery often deals with subrogation. A waiver of subrogation provision prevents the insurance company from pursuing legal action against the real party responsible for the damage.
When damages occur in condominiums a frequent dispute is how to determine if damages will be covered under the unit owner’s insurance policy or under the Board’s insurance policy for damages in common areas of the condominium. For example, in National Insurance Company v. Seguros Triple S,1 the Puerto Rico Appellate Court discussed this issue when water that escaped from a damaged bathroom of one of the unit apartments caused damage to the electric panel of the elevators of the condominium.