The following is offered as a general guide to help you understand and make decisions regarding claims resulting from the extensive snow that we have experience in the State of Connecticut.
This snow pack has led to numerous roof leaks, ice damming claims and building collapses. Each of these scenarios are covered by most insurance policies, but ultimately coverage will be defined by the insurance contract.
It is imperative that there be a single point of contact to represent each association for all claims that occur. This will help keep the communication clear and organized. The property manager will usually be the representative for the professionally managed
associations while a designated board member should represent the self-managed associations.
Once a leak or sign of water damage is detected, it should be reported to the property manager, or the designated board member responsible for the claims management of the association. At this point, all affected unit owners should contact their respective insurers to report the loss. While the loss may appear to be isolated to the exterior wall or the adjoining ceiling, there may be hidden water damage that could evolve into a leak from a lighting fixture or even cause a ceiling to collapse onto personal property such as a sofa, dining room table, TV, etc. It is important to note that association master insurance will not cover the personal property of unit owners.
Each unit owner has a duty to report the sign or potential of such a claim to their insurance company in a timely manner. These are water damage claims. Water damage is a covered peril under the majority of policies issued to both association and unit owners alike. Even if no major loss occurs, there is an obligation for unit owners to report the leak so the damage can be reviewed and adjusted quickly, which could quite possibly mitigate additional major damage.
Master insurance policy deductibles will also play an important role in how these claims will be paid. All insurance policies will have a per occurrence deductible, which will only apply once if the losses can be directly attributed to one storm or occurrence. Some insurance companies will also have a ‘per unit’ ice damming deductible in addition to the per occurrence deductible. Be sure to read your insurance policy and contact your master insurance policy agent to be clear on what deductibles will apply to the specific association experiencing claims.
Condominium governing documents will also play a significant role in how the claim is settled. Most claim adjusters will require a copy of a full set of governing documents. In order to expedite the process, it would be to your advantage to have a full set ready to share. Furthermore, once the repairs to the structure begin, be certain that the restoration work is performed by a licensed and insured contractor in accordance with local laws, building codes and zoning restrictions as well as the standards of the community.
Given the frequency and magnitude of the past snow and ice storms, additional leaks may occur once we begin experiencing major thawing cycles with warmer weather. For this reason, claim adjusters are waiting until the total threat of further damage has passed before applying the final cost of restoration. In the meantime, if a unit owner experiences additional leaks, please notify the assigned claims adjuster for further instruction on the best way to prevent additional damage.
Please note, if you choose to spend more than the amount agreed to with the claims adjuster, these additional costs may not be covered by the insurance policies and may become the responsibility of the association and the affected unit owner(s).