Homeowners' Insurance Claims & Condos Attorney in Tampa, Florida
Buying insurance in Florida is not an inexpensive proposition. Yet, you make the investment because you want to protect what’s yours or your lender requires it as part and parcel of your mortgage. In either case, you count on receiving the benefits you pay for if you ever need it.
Too often, that does not happen. Your condo unit and belongings are damaged by fire, water, or other circumstances and your insurance company offers you too little or denies your claim altogether. If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly, that is because you are.
Attorney Jeff Pekar has seen this scenario all too often. He witnessed it when he worked as a defense attorney for insurance companies. His view now is from the other side, representing individuals making insurance claims. That is why his firm, Pekar Law, P.A., works tirelessly to help clients in Tampa, Florida, and throughout Western and Central Florida, including Orlando, Fort Myers, Lakeland, and Sarasota, fight insurance companies for the coverage they have paid for.
What Are the Basics of Condo Homeowner Insurance?
The definition of condo homeowner insurance lives somewhere between a renter’s insurance policy and a traditional homeowner’s insurance policy. A renter’s policy would cover only damage to the renter’s personal belongings, while the landlord’s policy would cover damage to the interior and exterior of the property.
The insurance policies of single-family dwelling homeowners cover the interior, exterior, land, and outbuildings, as well as the interior and belongings. A condo homeowner policy, though, covers events that occur on the interior of the home, including damage to the fixtures and belongings therein, as well as bodily injury liability for anyone injured inside the condo if the owner’s negligence led to their injury.
This is because condo owners own only the interior space of their units. The condo association owns the exterior, including the roof, walls and siding, foundation, hallways, communal spaces, outbuildings, sidewalks and driveways, and the rest of the real property. Therefore, condo policies should work in conjunction with the coverage provided in the homeowner association’s master liability policy.
This distinction is why condo insurance policyholders can face unique challenges when filing claims with their insurers. For example, if there is a hurricane that damages the roof, siding, and windows of the condo building, the condo association’s master policy should be on the hook for the claim. If there is a fire in a condo unit sparked by something on the stove, the condo homeowner’s insurance should pay the claim. When claims are filed, however, condo homeowners can get caught in the crossfire.
Condo homeowner coverage exclusions typically include those common in any homeowner coverage, such as normal wear and tear, neglect, floods, earthquakes, pest infestations, pet damage, power surges, intentional damage, and war. You should also obtain adequate insurance for valuable personal items, such as jewelry, artwork, and collections. Adding loss assessment coverage to your policy is wise. If your condo association’s master policy’s coverage is insufficient for a claim, it may assess association members' fees to cover them.
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What Are the Common Types of Homeowner Claims for Condos?
There are generally five types of homeowner claims for condos:
Water damage claims may result from broken or damaged pipes or from roof leaks. If the damage originates in another condo owner’s unit, you can file a claim to repair damage in your unit with your insurance coverage. Just know that your insurer may try to obtain reimbursement from the insurance coverage of the adjoining condo owner.
Fire and smoke damage claims resulting from fires that started inside your unit are also common. So are claims for damage to your belongings from water and other efforts to extinguish the fire.
Structural damage is damage that compromises the integrity of your home. Because this will usually involve the structure of the building your condo is in, your association policy should pay these claims.
Personal property damage is a common claim. If someone breaks into your condo and damages or destroys property, property damaged or destroyed by fire or water damage in your condo, and other similar events should be covered by your policy.
Injuries to other people stemming from accidents that occur within the walls of your condo, due to your negligence, should be covered by your condo homeowner insurance. For example, if you fail to properly secure a loose light fixture and it falls on a guest and injures them, the victim can file a third-party liability claim against your policy.
Do I Need to Involve My Condo Association?
Where insurance is concerned, it is smart to work with your condo association because its master policy may be the proper payer of claims. You should ask for a copy of the master policy and review it to understand what it covers and what is excluded. Then, make sure your homeowner policy covers what the master policy does not.
If a claim for damage in your unit is rooted in damage to property covered by the association’s master policy, the lines between your policy and the association’s can become blurred. Insurance companies for each of you will use those gray areas to deny claims and leave both of you hanging out to dry.
Don’t view the association and its master policy as adversarial. Instead, consider the master policy and your condo homeowner policy as working in tandem. After all, you pay association fees that pay for that master policy which gives you ownership of that coverage as well.
It is likely that when you file a claim against your homeowner policy, the adjuster will look for ways to place responsibility for the damage on the association’s master policy. Understand the coverage under both policies so you can have informed conversations with both the association and your adjuster.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?
If you cannot resolve a dispute with an insurance company that denies your claim, you should consult with a homeowners’ insurance claims and condos attorney. Keep in mind that insurance companies don’t want to pay claims because they earn more profit by denying them. If your insurer or the association’s insurer can avoid paying a claim, they will.
Those claims shared by you and the association can be complex, so work with an attorney who has successfully represented condo owners in the same types of claims. Insurance policies can be difficult to understand, and that is what insurance companies want, hoping you will give up on your claim and go away. An experienced condo homeowner’s attorney will fully comprehend your policy and the association’s master policy and understand what coverages should apply.
Upon review of the policies and the basis for your claim, your attorney will communicate with the insurance companies to demand coverage where due.
Homeowners’ Insurance Claims & Condos Attorney in Tampa, Florida
It is quite simple. If you are unable to have a claim paid by your insurance company and/or the association’s, you need the experience and expertise of Attorney Jeff Pekar to represent you in the claim. Call Pekar Law, P.A. in Tampa, Florida, now to schedule a consultation. You pay for your homeowner’s insurance and the association’s. If your claim is covered, one or both entities should pay as promised.