Property & Casualty Insurance/Unit Fire

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QUESTION: Hi again, Jay,
I will try to be specific. I'm down the (Fl)Keys & we have another condo up in Daytona WHERE a 90 yr. old couple/neighbor in a 1st floor unit had an extensive fire via the furnace in a hall closet (probably due to faulty wiring/bad building). I am trying to make them understand from this distance that all they are responsible for is the hot water heater (as an appliance) which was in the same closet & the wall/ceiling coverings are their ONLY responsibility. (everything else is ok) Assoc ins. adjuster already came by BUT the prez, management, no one has informed them or kept them abreast of anything-they have been getting five figure estimates because they think they are responsible. I'm going to fax your answer to their daughter to show them this. Secondly, am I correct in understanding that the association will pick the contractors & not the insurance company because, if that is so, our prez picks a lot of fly-by-nighters and things should be done right this time around. Oops, thirdly, the people upstairs left that night via red cross because they were affected so (as a long shot) would the assoc. ins. cover putting these displaced folks up somewhere until the worst of the damage is fixed? Once again, Jay thanks for your help. Angi

ANSWER: Hi Angi,

I apologize for the delay in responding.  I was out of town teaching and only had my iPhone with me.  

You are spot on regarding your analysis...the Association has the majority of the repair responsibility in this instance.  I am appalled that the Association officers have not kept them informed as to the disposition of the claim/repairs.  While it's true that the Association has the final say in who will do the job, as a member of the Association, the resident is entitled to FULL DISCLOSURE of what is happening.  If the job is not done correctly, the unit owner will end up having to constantly ride the Association to make additional repairs.

As far as the residents above this unit owner, they would have to rely on their own insurance to take care of the expenses to stay somewhere else due to the loss under their Additional Living Expenses coverage.  Without looking at a copy of the policy, I can't say for sure that it would pay unless there was direct damage to their unit.  Policy language does vary sometimes.

I hope that helps a little.  Let me know if you have more questions.  I'll be heading for ME in the morning but I'll have my iPad with me so I can respond quicker.

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

QUESTION: HI JAY,
YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT MY ELDERLY FRIENDS ARE GOING THROUGH. THE OTHER DAY THEIR DAUGHTER WAS WALKING OUT TO WORK AND THE PRESIDENT WAS OUT THERE AND ASKED HER, "WHAT HER FATHER PLANNED ON DOING (ABOUT THE FIRE)???!! SHE JUST ANSWERED BY SAYING HER FATHER WAS VERY CONFUSED...(HER DAD ALSO ENDED UP IN THE HOSPITAL OVERNIGHT A FEW DAYS AFTER THE FIRE-STRESS/DIABETIC,ETC). HER DAD WENT TO THE MANAGEMENT OFFICE AND THE WOMAN WHO RUNS IT WAS NOT THERE SO HE ASKED THAT SHE CALL HIM-NIL-NADA. THE FIRE MARSHALL EVEN TOLD HER DAD THE FIRE STARTED UP IN A JUNCTION BOX. I LOOKED UP ATTORNEYS IN THE AREA THAT HANDLE CONDO LAW SO HE CALLED THEM, HAD TO LEAVE A MSG FOR THEM TO CALL BACK & THEY NEVER DID!!!!!!!

Answer
Hi Angi,

Actually...unfortunately I can believe it.  I can't tell you how often I run into situations like this.  Many times Association boards are just clueless when it comes to FL Statute and how it applies in lieu of the Declaration of Condominium.  They lose sight of the fact that Law trumps Contract.  A contract cannot change an obligation that is Statutory in nature.  

Unfortunately, while I lived in Daytona for four years I do not know any Condo-specific attorneys.  In my humble opinion, the best Condo attorney in the state is Becker & Poliakoff in Ft. Lauderdale.  I have rarely agreed with any articles they have written related to Condo Associations and their obligations under 718.111.  Their website is:http://www.becker-poliakoff.com.

I would also recommend contacting the Department of Business & Professional Regulation, Division of Condominiums, Time Shares, and Mobile Homes.  Here is their website:http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/index.html.  You can get their contact information and file a complaint.  This is utterly ridiculous!  If I still lived in Ormond Beach I would go to the condo personally and help you out.  Unfortunately I live in St. Pete now.  

Somehow a fire needs to be lit under these folks.  Maybe a letter from an attorney or the threat of a DBPR complaint will get it done.

Please let me know if you have more questions or if there is anything I can do for you.

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Jay K. Williams, AAI, AIP, CIC, CRM

Expertise

I can answer questions relating to the following coverages: personal auto; homeowners; commercial auto; commercial liability; commercial property; business income and all other property and casualty coverages.

Experience

I have been in the insurance industry in Florida since 1979. I am currently the president of a Florida domestic insurance company subsidiary. I've taught continuing education classes in Florida and across the country. I am quite familiar with all coverages including Florida Condominium master policies and unit owner policies. I also specialize in agent professional liability. I have been a professional educator since 2001.

Organizations
I am a member of the Florida Associaion of Insurance Agents, the state affiliate of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.

Education/Credentials
I currently carry the following professional designations: Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI) Associate in Insurance Production (AIP) Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) Certified Risk Manager (CRM)

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