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Property & Casualty Insurance/Who's estimate used for water damage?

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QUESTION: I'm in Los Angeles, CA. I own a townhouse/condo I rent out. Apparently water from leaky bathtub drain in my upstairs bathroom leaked through common wall and caused minimal damage to living room composite wood floor of condo next to mine. Neither the other owner or I have homeowners insurance. The other condo's owner wants to use an estimate from a repair man she knows; she hasn't got it, yet. (My wife opines the other owner will in cahoots with her repair man to inflate the cost, which she bases on her contacts with other owner). I've brought in a repairman to write an estimate for fixing her floor, myself. Can I use my repairman's estimate? The other owner suggests we split the difference (once she gets her man's estimate).  Should I get three estimates, as in auto collision cases where both drivers don't want to use their insurance? Or would other owner get 3 estimates, since she's the damaged party?
FYI, the other owner insists I replace the composite flooring with identical flooring, which she bought from Home Depot in 2005. Both I and my repairman told her it cannot be found, yet she still insists--unless I replace entire floor. The only way I can get matching boards is to order 40 pallet loads minimum from the Chinese manufacturer. According to one Chinese importing source, this particular flooring hasn't been shipped to the U.S. since 2007.

ANSWER: Richard Boothe,

This is really out of my area of expertise. The Condo association should have a policy a claim should be made on that policy. In a condo you pay for a policy that covers the structures of the Condo. the improvements made inside each condo is your property to insure and maintain. Your in a dispute which I don't deal with, personally if I were in this situation I would allow the lady next door who's property is damaged to come at me with an estimate. If she is fair and reasonable I would pay her, if she tried to cheat me I would tell her to get in the wind and let the courts deal with the situation. That's just me and my way of doing things. You have many options to you based on the way you like doing things. It's up to you. But the structural part of the damage should be covered by a policy that the condo has in effect.

Good Luck,

JIM C

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you. The condo association's coverage doesn't include contents of each condo, including flooring installed by the owner. Neither of us have HO insurance, just homeowner's warranty insurance, which doesn't cover. Would you suggest I have the other owner sign a Release for Damage to Real Estate form, assuming she accepts my offer? In my perception, she appears argumentative and pushy and likely to use inflated estimates. I'm in the process of getting estimates myself.

Answer
Richard,

Don't misunderstand me this is outside my expertise, other than to say flooring is not a contents item, it is part of the leasehold improvement in your case the associations policy would definitely not cover flooring in your unit or anyone else's for that matter. It would however cover the structural portion that may have to get replaced due to damage by the water. What I'm getting at is basically the subflooring and she wouldn't be able to include that portion of the damage in the estimate. I would wait to get her inflated estimate, making sure that it's detailed enough so you can see the price for each task being preformed and put her in the position of making a bogus estimate and simply either pay her a reasonable amount of what the job could get done for or use her estimate as grounds for not paying at all. She has no insurance, she should have insurance. She probably has insurance and is trying to get paid twice. Her insurance carrier would pay for her damage, in turn her insurance carrier would attempt to seek subrogation from your carrier. Her carrier may or may not be successful, depending on the exact circumstances of the loss. That's how it would work if all had insurance.
In reality, it's her problem she has the damage if you don't want to pay her don't, nothing would come of it either way. If she is a nice person I wouldn't hesitate to help her out, if she is nasty and trying to cheat you I wouldn't pay her.
I don't know what else I can say about this matter. My expertise is totally different, I am competent at determining the dollar value of damage in a structure and how to work an insurance policy so that the person having the loss comes out a whole as possible. This area of questioning is basically a moral question, and I don't have any. LOL.
Happy Thanksgiving,
Jim C

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James R Carrier

Expertise

I'm an insurance adjuster. If you have had an insurance loss your in the right place. Insurance coverages is not my forte, you would want to ask one of the other experts who are insurance agents. I'm able to answer questions regarding coverage, damage valuation, basically anything to do with property & casualty. My expertise is accessing damage putting a valuation on that damage and proving damage to an insurance company adjuster on behalf of a homeowner or business owner. I'm able to answer or get the answer regarding underwriting. Please no questions on automobile coverage you know more than me in that area.

Experience

20 years as a licensed adjuster, handling 1000's of homeowners and commercial claims in Michigan, Louisiana, and Florida. I own a Public Adjusting Company, Advanced Adjusting LLC in Milford MI.

Education/Credentials
Business degree with an emphasis on accounting from Arizona State University, graduating in the Fall of 1984. I have taught and participated in continuing education courses in the field of property and casualty.

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