Was your condominium unit damaged by storms or another event that your property owners' insurance policy should cover? You purchased insurance coverage to protect your investment against financial loss from fires, hurricanes, home invasions, floods, and more, and when you need to turn to your insurer for compensation, you expect to receive it.
Unfortunately, many property owners are shocked and frustrated when their insurance providers fail to honor the terms of their policies. Instead of the coverage they paid for in premiums, policyholders often get lowball settlement offers, maddening delays, and unfair claim denials.
If you are struggling with a condo damage insurance claim from a provider that seems intent on undervaluing, obstructing, or denying it, do not despair. With the help of a competent condominium property damage lawyer, you can stand up to big insurance companies and insist on fair compensation for your losses.
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our distinguished attorneys represent condo owners nationwide who are dealing with the effects of property damage and unforeseen repair costs. We can help you by reviewing your insurance policy, association covenant, and other vital documents to determine how much you could be owed in benefits. Once we know that, we can work to maximize your claim's value.
To learn more about your rights as a condo owner and whether your insurance provider is playing fair, contact our firm today for a professional case review. Our initial review sessions are available at no charge with zero obligation to you, and if we secure compensation for your claim, we'll take our legal fees out of the settlement.
- Why Choose Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA?
- Condominium Ownership and Property Damage in the United States
- How Insuring a Condominium Is Different
- Causes and Types of Property Damage That Affect Condominiums
- How Much Is My Condo Property Damage Claim Worth?
- Demanding Compensation from a Condo Damage Insurance Claim
- What to Do if Your Condo Gets Damaged
- Condominium Property Damage FAQs
- Speak With a Condo Property Damage Attorney Today
Why Choose Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA?
Condo damage claims are often costly and complex, and you shouldn't handle these complicated matters alone. When your biggest investment is at stake, you want to ensure your case is in capable hands. You need compensation from a full and fair insurance settlement to repair your property and move forward with your life, and the best way to obtain that settlement is with a skilled attorney.
The experienced condo damage lawyers of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can guide you through every stage of the claims process, interpreting the dense language in your policy and collaborating with you to determine the best way forward.
Consider the following key factors that distinguish our firm from the rest:
- Experience—Our team comprises of many gifted lawyers with more than 120 years of combined experience in various practice areas. Since 2004, we have worked relentlessly to defend our clients' rights and demand fair recoveries on behalf of injured people and property damage victims nationwide.
- Results—During our years of service, we have consistently secured outstanding results on behalf of those we represent, many of whom have lost savings, quality of life, and even homes. Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for our deserving clients through successful insurance settlements and trial verdicts.
- Reputation—As a direct result of our determination and success, our firm has earned a national reputation. Insurance companies and other attorneys know and respect us, which gives our clients a significant edge during settlement talks.
- Attentiveness—When you work with us, you will never feel like you're just another case number. From the moment you retain our services, we take the time to listen closely to your concerns, understand your goals, and develop smart strategies to pursue those goals.
- Diligence—Our attorneys are hard-working and thorough. We understand how important our results are to our clients, which is why we leave no stone unturned in pursuing success. We can handle every aspect of your claim from start to finish, working with appraisers, contractors, adjusters, meteorologists, and other experts who can evaluate your situation professionally. This rigorous approach allows us to calculate comprehensive estimates of what you're owed and demand full value for valid claims.
- Convenience—We understand that catastrophic property damage doesn't just happen during the typical workweek. That's why we're committed to providing convenient and accessible services when and where our clients need us. We have dozens of office locations across the U.S., and our attentive team is prepared to meet with you at your convenience, either virtually or in person.
- Affordability—Our property damage attorneys know that unexpected property repairs can utterly devastate your finances, so we are happy to offer affordable payment plans to fit any budget. We accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we cover all upfront expenses for your case and only charge fees if we win money for you. Any fees you pay are taken from a prearranged percentage of your settlement, so you never need to worry about out-of-pocket costs or surprise expenses.
Fighting back against a big insurance company to demand compensation for your condo property damage claim can be intimidating, but there's no reason you should do it alone. Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, right now to learn more about what we can do for you.
Condominium Ownership and Property Damage in the United States
Millions of Americans live in condominiums, community associations, and other residential housing cooperatives nationwide.
The following data from the Community Associations Institute shows just how prevalent condo ownership is in the U.S.:
- Recent statistics reveal that 74.1 million Americans reside in roughly 355,000 community associations throughout the country
- An estimated 25 to 27 percent of U.S. residents live in community associations
- Between 27 and 32 million Americans live specifically in condominium associations and cooperatives, of which there are roughly 131,450 to 156,000
- There are an average of 60 residential units in any given U.S. condo association
- Collectively, the value of all homes within community associations in the United States is a staggering $9.2 trillion
- American community associations hold a combined $25.8 billion in reserve funds for repairs, replacements, and improvements to common properties
Like all homes, condominiums and other residences in community associations are vulnerable to various different catastrophes, many of which are weather-related or environmental. And according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the risk of damage from these events is only increasing.
Natural disasters and catastrophes have been occurring more frequently and causing more severe damage in the U.S. since the 1980s. In a recent 10-year period, U.S. catastrophes caused more than $518.1 billion in total insured losses nationwide.
When extreme weather events and other unforeseen incidents cause damage to a property, that damage is often covered by one or more property insurance policies. However, determining which policies may apply and what types of damage are covered can be tricky when it comes to condominium property damage insurance claims.
How Insuring a Condominium Is Different
One of the key distinctions between owning a traditional home and a condo is that you are not always required to be part of a homeowners' association (HOA) when buying a traditional home. When you buy a condo, on the other hand, you typically must join a property owners' association (POA) or condo owners' association (COA).
POAs and COAs have their advantages and their disadvantages. These organizations usually charge costly dues and require residents to abide by strict covenants. However, they also provide community support and services, deter disorderly and criminal conduct, and help to maintain and improve property values.
The way insurance coverage works for condominium owners is also very different from the way it works for other homeowners. When a condo gets damaged, there are typically two insurance policies to consider. First is the condo owner's insurance policy, which usually covers everything inside the home. Second, the master policy of the COA covers shared spaces.
When condo owners pay COA dues, a portion of their payments often goes toward these comprehensive master policies. Master COA policies cover common or shared structures within the association, including things like home exteriors, pools, lobbies, playgrounds, HVAC systems, roads, and stairwells. Some master policies also cover ceilings, floors, and walls in individual homes if adjacent units share them.
If you have paid your COA fees and insurance premiums dutifully, you are entitled to have covered instances of condo damage paid for by the relevant policies. The specifics of your coverage can vary depending on the particular language of your policy, so it's a good idea to review your plan with a knowledgeable attorney if your condo has been damaged.
The team at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, could help you by determining the types and amounts of coverage available according to your policy and demanding the full compensation you are owed.
Causes and Types of Property Damage That Affect Condominiums
Every home is vulnerable to property damage, though homes in specific locations are more prone to certain catastrophes than others.
Let's take a look at some of the most common causes of property damage to condominiums throughout the U.S.:
- Fires—Condo fires are less common than other types of property damage, but they can be the most destructive. In worst-case scenarios, a fire can result in the total loss of a home and everything in it. Some fire damage is caused by wildfires, which occur most frequently in the West. However, condo fires can also result from unattended flames, shoddy electrical work, or other hazardous conditions inside any home.
- High winds—High winds from tornadoes and other extreme weather events also frequently damage residential property. In a recent 10-year period, the U.S. had an average of 1,172 tornadoes per year. Homeowners in central and southwestern states are most at risk for tornado damage. Intense winds can easily tear through roofs, uproot trees, and hurl outdoor furniture through the air.
- Hurricanes—When hurricanes come ashore, they often bring serious hazards, including high winds, heavy rains, storm surges, and sometimes even tornadoes. This combination of extreme weather events can lead to widespread flooding, structural collapses, and other types of costly damage. Property owners along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico tend to be most at risk for hurricane damage.
- Hail—Hail can occur in nearly any part of the country and often strikes with little to no warning. Even small pellets of hail can wreak havoc on residential and personal property, especially when strong winds fling the hailstones about at speed. And as the size of the falling hail increases, so does the likelihood of severe damage to vehicles, roofs, patios, and other outdoor structures.
- Snowstorms—Even moderate amounts of snow and ice can cause significant property destruction, especially for unprepared homeowners in warmer areas that experience unusual winter weather. As snow or ice freezes, thaws, and refreezes, water can work into minor cracks, expanding the defects and introducing new leaks. And when snow and ice thaw in springtime, they often contribute to flooding, damaging foundations and ruining interior floors.
- Earthquakes—Earthquakes are another common cause of property damage throughout the U.S. since seismic activity occurs nationwide. A serious earthquake can rip apart home foundations, collapse residential structures, and destroy fragile possessions within the home.
- Flooding—Many floods result from extreme weather like heavy rain, hurricanes, and snowstorms. But homes in any part of the country can sustain flood damage from water that comes from inside the house. Condos are frequently damaged when dishwashers, washing machines, and plumbing systems spring leaks. And because many condominiums share adjacent walls, flooding in a single unit can lead to water damage in all bordering units.
- Crime—Crime is another extremely common cause of property damage that can occur anywhere, at any time. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a property-related crime occurred once every five seconds in a single recent year. Home invasion, vandalism, and theft can all leave property owners with stolen or irreparably destroyed possessions.
A catastrophic event could result in:
- Damage to shared walls, floors, or ceilings in between units
- Damage to structures within your individual unit
- Exterior damage to shingles, gutters, skylights, and roof decking
- Damage to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Water damage from leaky windows, roofs, pipes, or foundations
- Flooding from plumbing issues or sewage backup
- Mold damage caused by unattended leaks, floods, or poor ventilation
- Electrical issues from installation, maintenance, or pest problems
- Damage to home foundations, basements, and crawl spaces
- Vehicle damage and other damage to or theft of personal property
In some cases, property damage events can also cause personal harm to condominium occupants. For instance, residents and visitors can sustain blunt-force trauma from structural collapse, serious burns from building fires, and respiratory injuries from exposure to toxic mold or asbestos.
Many property owners' insurance policies include personal injury liability coverage, which can help you pay for injuries related to covered instances of property damage. If you were injured by a catastrophic event that also damaged your condo, you should speak with a lawyer to learn more about sources of compensation for your injuries.
How Much Is My Condo Property Damage Claim Worth?
When your condo is damaged in a covered event, you may be entitled to compensation for any repair, replacement, or restoration costs you incur as a result. However, the location, nature, and extent of the property damage can all impact the types and amounts of compensation available to you.
If the damage affected a communal structure, such as a shared wall, driveway, or mailbox, it is almost certainly covered by your COA's master insurance policy. In most communities, the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions outlines which shared structures are and aren't covered by the master policy.
If the COA is responsible for maintaining the damaged structure, it should also be responsible for filing the insurance claim and repairing the damage itself. When property damage affects shared structures exclusively, individual condo owners are not usually entitled to compensation. Since their units are not directly affected, they are not expected to pay for the repairs in the first place.
If property damage affects both individual units and shared structures simultaneously, condo owners may be entitled to compensation for any losses they incur individually. For instance, the COA master policy may cover structural damage to a shared foundation, but a personal homeowners' insurance policy would likely cover resulting water damage to carpeting, hardwood floors, or possessions within the home.
With a successful insurance claim, you could recover money for the following repair costs and other losses that often accompany property damage to condominiums:
- The costs of repairing damage to shingles, gutters, skylights, and windows
- The costs of repairing siding, stucco, walls, ceilings, and hardwood floors
- The costs of replacing furniture, carpeting, and other in-unit property
- The costs of replacing or repairing large structures, such as roofs or foundations
- The costs of repairing or replacing property damaged by fires or explosions
- The costs of mold abatement projects or remediation services
- The costs of snow and ice removal services during the wintertime
- The costs of finding a hotel or other temporary housing, if you are displaced
- Lost income from any time you miss at work while dealing with the damage
- Business losses, if you lawfully conduct business from your condominium
- Any medical expenses you incur due to injuries from covered events
- Projected losses in earning capacity, if the covered injuries are permanent
- Subjective losses, such as diminished quality of life resulting from the damage
Unfortunately, collecting the compensation you are owed from the insurance company is much easier to discuss than to achieve. Even with extensive evidence and documentation of your losses, your provider could still undervalue your claim or even deny it outright. The best way to determine exactly how much your claim is worth and then pursue a full recovery is to work with a seasoned property damage lawyer.
When you work with the attorneys of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we can help you pursue maximum compensation for your condo damage claim by:
- Reviewing your individual property insurance policy and the master policy for your COA to determine the extent of the available coverage, including whether any coverage is available for injuries, hotel stays, and other incidental losses
- Conducting an independent investigation into the incident to identify possible contributing factors and collect valuable evidence in support of your claim
- Assessing the damage that affected your condo or its contents to clarify which items are covered by your COA and which you are responsible for
- Working with appraisers and other experts to calculate the precise value of any real estate, land improvements, or personal property that was damaged or lost
- Gathering condo deeds, insurance papers, incident reports, property repair estimates, witness statements, banking records, and other useful documentation
- Managing important case documents, dates, and deadlines on your behalf
- Communicating with the COA, repair contractors, insurance companies, other lawyers, and any other relevant parties on your behalf
- Filing insurance claims on your behalf and negotiating tirelessly to maximize the value of your settlement every step of the way
- Taking your case to court and representing you at trial, if the insurance company refuses to pay for damages that are covered under the terms of your policy
Demanding Compensation from a Condo Damage Insurance Claim
Condo owners' insurance policies and COA master policies have distinct spheres of coverage, so if you need to file a claim yourself, it's useful to know what types of losses are generally covered by your individual policy.
Individual condo owners do not usually own the buildings that house their units, so, unlike homeowners, they are not usually responsible for insuring the entire structure. Instead, their policies typically only cover everything “from the paint in” or “from the walls in.” This type of coverage, sometimes called walls-in, paint-in, or HO6 insurance coverage, applies to everything in a condo's interior.
Most condo owners' HO6 insurance policies will cover damage to things like:
- Interior walls
- Floor coverings
Many policies also cover loss of use. This term applies when a covered event renders your condo uninhabitable. If this occurs, your policy may pay for the costs of hotel stays, dining out, and other incidentals. And finally, most policies contain personal liability coverage, which can pay for legal and medical costs if you are liable for any injuries or losses someone else incurs while in your condo.
Generally speaking, you cannot expect your association's master insurance policy to cover damage to your personal property or the interior of your unit. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, if your property was ruined because of structural damage to a shared space, your COA may be responsible for the damages.
Remember that just because you were away from your condo when the damage occurred does not necessarily mean the COA is responsible. If the property damage that affected your unit was a direct result of your actions, such as failing to close a window before you went on vacation, you would likely need to seek compensation from your own insurance policy. But if the damage occurred because of COA negligence, you could be entitled to money from both your policy and the master policy.
Even though a broad range of property damage events should be covered by insurance, many condo owners struggle to obtain the benefits they are owed in practice. Carriers prioritizing profits over principles often engage in bad faith insurance practices to protect their bottom lines.
Common examples of these bad faith tactics include:
- Unfairly denying or minimizing valid property damage claims
- Neglecting or refusing to pay or investigate claims promptly
- Neglecting or refusing to provide clear, prompt communication
- Failing to properly investigate claims or assess damage
- Lowballing property assessments to slash benefit payments
- Wrongfully accusing owners of failing to meet code requirements
If you suspect that your insurance provider is improperly minimizing or rejecting your claim, get in touch with Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our firm has national name recognition, and the big carriers are aware of our reputation as skilled attorneys who aggressively represent our clients. When you hire us, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that a qualified team of professionals is pursuing the best outcome possible on your behalf.
What to Do if Your Condo Gets Damaged
If your condo unit or personal property has been damaged and needs repair, an experienced lawyer can help you avoid a claim denial or undervalued settlement.
However, there are several important steps you can take on your own to protect your rights and lay a strong foundation for your condo damage claim, including:
- Obtaining any photos or video footage you have showing what your condo unit and personal property looked like before the damage occurred
- Taking new photos or videos of your unit and personal property after the damage occurred, then storing both sets of images in a secure location
- Listing all the structures, furnishings, and personal belongings of yours that were damaged, plus the estimated values of each
- Noting the precise date and time when the damage occurred, if you know it
- Holding on to damaged items until an inspector or appraiser comes to visit
- Politely requesting statements from witnesses who saw the damage occur
- Keeping track of property repair estimates, invoices, purchase receipts, and other documentation of your property damage-related financial losses and expenses
- Accompanying property inspectors and appraisers who enter your home, paying attention to anything they notice and asking questions about damage you see
- Creating a list of every person and organization you communicate with regarding your condo damage claim, when the communications took place, the names of any individuals you speak to, and the substance of each conversation
- Taking steps to prevent further damage to your property, such as patching small leaks, closing off water sources, and cleaning up minor flooding
Condominium Property Damage FAQs
Here are some plain and simple answers to some of the questions our attorneys hear most frequently about property damage to condominiums:
A tree fell onto my property. Who is responsible for removal and repairs?
In most cases, you would be responsible for removing the fallen tree and repairing damage to your property. The owner of a tree, whether it is a COA or another resident, is typically not responsible for property damage caused by the tree.
However, there are certain exceptions.
For instance, if the owner knew the tree was dead or dying and neglected to do anything about it, they could be held liable for subsequent damage. Similarly, the COA may be responsible for repairs if a tree falls against the outside of your condo and damages shared structures.
Who is responsible for snow removal on the sidewalk in front of my condo?
Many COA documents specify that sidewalks are common areas. This language would seem to imply that associations are responsible for maintaining those sidewalks, which would include excess snow removal.
If COAs have multi-unit buildings, the associations are typically responsible for clearing snow from shared entrances, roads, and parking lots. However, some state and local laws require homeowners to remove snow from in front of their properties, even if their walkways are shared property.
These laws can override COA covenants in certain cases, so it's important to know what the law says in your area.
How long do I have to file a claim if my unit or property is damaged?
It depends. Most insurance policies require policyholders to notify the carrier and file a claim within a relatively short time frame, so you should speak to your provider promptly the moment you suspect you may have a claim. And when it comes to filing property damage lawsuits, each state has its own statute of limitations, which typically bars victims from suing after a certain number of years have passed.
A property damage lawyer can help you by identifying important deadlines and handling your case in a timely manner.
Speak With a Condo Property Damage Attorney Today
If you are dealing with the fallout from damage to your condo unit or personal belongings, whether you're having trouble with the insurance company or have yet to file a claim, do not hesitate to reach out to Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our compassionate attorneys can address each of your concerns and evaluate your case for free when you contact us for your initial strategy session.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA - Clearwater Office
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
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