September 07 2014

Condo Flood Recovery Checklist

Condominiums, AKA: “Condo’s”, are one of the most popular types of dwellings. People like condos because they’re usually good values on a per square foot basis, there are certain social advantages with the local condo community yet you still keep your privacy, there’s usually no upkeep because it’s all included in the price, they represent an investment, and they usually come with a lot of nice neighborhood amenities.

But there’s a dark side to condo’s too. What happens with something, some kind of accident, happens in your unit that ‘bleeds’ over to your neighbors? In a single,free-standing unit, if you have flood (for example), you pretty much handle it and suffer from it yourself. But if you have a water pipe bust in a condo unit and you don’t catch it very quickly, it’s pretty much inevitable that your condo neighbors are going to catch some of that water and suffer damage too.

So how can you protect yourself (if you can) from such possibilities?

The obvious answer is to not let such things happen. One could reasonably argue that the majority of home-systems accidents are because of lack of upkeep or maintenance. That’s much less likely in a condo situation for the simple reason that proper maintenance generally the rule rather than the exception. But what if something does happen. Is there any protection?

First of all, if you’re a condo dweller or unit owner you need to remember that there are two potential parties which could, in some circumstances be held liable for flooding originating in one condo and ‘spilling over’ to another condo unit. Those two parties are the condo association board members and/or the condo unit owner. In both cases, having the right insurance can protect the individual owner.

Another factor is that all plant, equipment and systems your you, the condo owner, originally purchased are usually covered by the insurance of the the builder. But…. any improvements which you make to the unit are your responsibility not only to operate but also to insure. This is something you’ll need to be very specific about when discussion condo insurance with your insurance agent and also with the person or entity from which you purchase your condo.

But, if you have determined that your condominium’s master policy does not cover damage that apparently started within your unit, your primary issue is still protecting your own interests and the answer is still…. adequate and proper insurance.

There’s no catastrophe, or type of flooding, likely to happen in a condo that couldn’t happen in a free-standing unit so insurance companies are certainly familiar with the issues involved. The only thing that’s different in condo insurance liability issue is determining who the responsible parties are. Usually the governing laws come from the state level and, again, your insurance companies take that into account.

Condo insurance is essentially the same as home-owners insurance. There is a statement of coverage, i.e. which of your belongings are covered and what property of an injured neighbor or damaged neighbor’s property is covered. There will usually be a deductible and/or some type of co-pay.

If and when something happens, you still need to immediately contact your insurance agent. An adjuster will come out, help you fill out any necessary paperwork, make his/her report, and submit the claim to the insurance company. Usually these adjusters are capable of making binding decisions on behalf of the company. That’s their job.

So… condo living is pretty much like any other type of living except that your neighbors live in much closer proximity so it puts a different priority on having proper insurance.