Purchasing a condo is different than purchasing a home. With a condo, you’ll likely pay into a homeowner’s association (HOA), share community spaces with your neighbors, and agree to certain terms laid out by the community.
When there is damage to your property, filing a condominium property insurance claim can get complicated. Each state has specific laws that govern the rights of condo owners, as well as local laws that may affect how you file your claim.
If there is a dispute in your condo insurance claim, or if you believe you were unfairly denied, an insurance claim lawyer can help make sure you’re paid a fair settlement for your losses.
Understanding Condo Property Insurance Claims
Each time an insurance claim is filed, or when there is damage or loss of property, your HOA will likely determine if the damage involves shared community areas or if it extends into the individual condo unit. It may also determine if parts of the entire complex or building is damaged as well.
Where the damage occurs and how bad it is will likely determine what’s covered and which insurance policy pays for it, whether it’s the master policy or the individual owner policy.
Many state laws require HOAs to use their master insurance to cover common areas, which may include some aspects of individual condos.
Defining Common Areas
Condominium owners share their building structures with other condominium owners. Each condo owner relies on the other to keep things up to a defined standard. Although there are individual owners of each unit, there is also shared ownership among common areas.
Some examples of common areas include:
- parking lots
- parts of shared interior walls
- exterior walls and roof
- air conditioning or heating units
- electrical units
- patios, decks, or balconies
Common areas are likely defined by the homeowner’s association (HOA) rules or local law. State and local law may also determine the kind of property insurance you must purchase for your condo.
Although you may have your own individual insurance policy, the HOA may suggest which carriers to use and set other terms that detail the repair process.
Master Condo Insurance Policies Vs. Individual Condo Insurance Policies
For the condominium complex to be completely covered by insurance, there will likely be at least two different policies in place. One is a master policy that covers the whole building or the entire complex.
The other is an individual policy that protects a condo owner’s personal property and the structural elements of the unit that are not covered under the master policy.
HOA Condominium Property Insurance Policies
The master policy can also be thought of as the HOA property insurance. The building management is responsible for a master policy, and it may be paid for by individual condo owner’s association fees. This policy covers common areas.
Some HOA policies may also cover individual units as they are (however, remodels may require additional insurance), while other policies may only cover the floor, walls, or ceilings attached to other units or common areas. To determine the details of a master policy, check with your condo board or building management.
Individual Condo Owner Policies
As an individual condo owner, you’re likely required to purchase an insurance policy to cover your property from damage. This policy will likely cover your belongings and any structural elements that aren’t covered in the HOA’s policy.
Although individual policies will vary and depend on the language of the policy, your individual condo property insurance may:
- protect your personal belongings
- cover damage to the interior of your unit
- compensate you for the cost of living elsewhere if major repairs are required
- compensate you for moving should the damage be impossible to repair
- protect you from liability if you’re sued or at fault after an accident near your unit
You may also want to consider additional coverage for your condo to avoid a claim denial. Other coverages, like loss assessment coverage for example, could compensate you for when the cost of a certain loss is split among condo owners, like water damage in a common area.
Common Condo Property Insurance Claims
Filing a property damage claim for your condo is more complicated than filing a claim for a single-family home. Although some damage is likely to be covered under your individual condo insurance policy, other damage may be covered by the owner of the condominium complex or the HOA.
In many cases, insurance claims will be filed by both the condo owner and the HOA.
Some common condo property insurance claims include:
- hurricane damage
- tornado or other storm/natural disaster damage
- water damage due to bursts pipes or sewage issues
- wind damage, including damage to windows or roofs
- smoke and fire damage
- mold damage
Although the HOA and each individual condo owner share common interests, issues can arise for both parties. If there is an insurance claim dispute involving your HOA, an individual condo owner should consult with an insurance dispute lawyer.
Reasons Your Condo Insurance Claim May Have Been Denied
The vast majority of insurance companies, whether representing individual condo policies or HOA master policies, will compensate policyholders to recover from a loss. However, some insurance companies may deny your condo insurance claim.
Some examples of why your insurance claim was denied or underpaid include:
- causation: An insurance company may dispute what caused the damage outlined in your claim.
- it’s covered by the other policy: If an individual condo owner files a claim, the insurance company may deny your claim because your HOA should file the claim instead.
- property devaluation: An insurance company may claim your unit is not as valuable as it once was. They may deny your claim altogether or devalue the payout so it doesn’t cover the cost of repairs.
- failure to cooperate: Many insurance policies state that policyholders must cooperate with the insurance company. They may deny your claim because you failed to cooperate with their investigation, like providing certain documents or information.
What To Do If Your Condo Was Damaged
If your condo was damaged from a storm or other incident that requires repairs, you must document everything at the scene and work alongside your HOA for the best results.
To avoid a claim denial, it can help to do the following:
- take videos or pictures of the damage
- make a list of personal property items (clothing, jewelry, etc.)
- note the time and date the damage occured
- find pictures that show the unit before the damage occured
- gather receipts or other documents from when you purchased the condo
- get statements from witnesses
Insurance companies will want evidence that proves your condo was damaged. The more evidence you can collect and preserve, the stronger your claim will be and the less likely your insurance will deny you compensation.
How A Lawyer Can Help Your Condominium Property Insurance Claim
Even with a plethora of evidence, some insurance adjusters may unfairly deny your claim. If your claim has been denied or if you’re worried it will be, you can hire an insurance dispute lawyer to strengthen your case.
From verifying your coverage to investigating your claim and getting you a fair settlement, a qualified insurance lawyer can help you recover compensation for your loss.
Verify Insurance Coverage
With condo property insurance claims, verifying what’s covered under different policies can be complicated. A lawyer can help assess the situation at your condo complex, including verifying the coverage of both the HOA policy and the individual condo policy.
Investigate The Claim
Although insurance companies may conduct their own investigations, a lawyer is likely to conduct an investigation to make sure your claim was handled fairly and within the details of your policy.
This may include whether the damage was properly assessed, the total losses filed in the claim, and whether the HOA or individual policyholder will be charged with overseeing or paying for the repairs.
Collect A Fair Settlement
Taking a condo property insurance claim dispute to court is costly and time-consuming for insurance carriers. A lawyer can help negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company to ensure you receive the amount of money it takes to make the necessary repairs.
Top-Rated Condominium Property Insurance Claims Lawyers
If your condo property insurance claim was denied or undervalued, a lawyer can help. At Florin|Roebig, our insurance claim dispute lawyer will examine the details of your case and help you collect compensation for your loss.
A lawyer can also help you sift through your insurance policy, the policy of your HOA, and local and state condominium laws. Our law offices have experience trying insurance claim dispute cases in multiple states, from Florida to Texas.
Contact Us Today For A Free Case Evaluation
It can be tough to know if you should seek legal counsel after a dispute involving your condo property insurance or your HOA’s insurance. At Florin|Roebig, we offer a free case evaluation to help you get started with your case.
To learn more about condo property insurance claims, or to get started with your free case evaluation, contact our offices today.