Friday, October 23, 2009

The one-year countdown begins!

Probably the last thing on your mind right now is a storm that blew through here four years ago to the day this Saturday. However, if your association was like many and suffered damages when Hurricane Wilma paid us her unfriendly visit, you need to know that the one-year countdown on the 5-year statute of limitations to pursue a casualty claim has begun.

My law firm, Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum (KGR) and the Community Advocacy Network (CAN) are committed to educating board members, association members and community association managers about their rights before this window of opportunity closes forever.

Community association boards are particularly vulnerable to the common myths that are associated with the complicated insurance claims process. Have you ever thought your policy would be canceled or your rates raised if you made a claim for property damage? If you have, you are a member of a very large and misinformed group of people. In fact, Florida law prohibits an insurer from cancelling or failing to renew a policy as a result of a claim made for damage caused by an act of God.

Moreover, even if you've never filed a claim, you are just as likely to have your rates raised as your neighboring property owner who has made dozens of claims and been paid on them. Insurance companies raise rates in broad swaths and not just in reaction to your particular claim.

Many boards submitted claims for Wilma storm damage four years ago and were told that their claims did not reach their deductible level. Others received some money from their carriers but not nearly enough to pay for repairs and, as a result, they were forced to specially assess their members. Incredibly, a few associations never even made claims because they relied on their resident community "expert" who told them not to bother.

For far too many communities, the storms that ravaged Florida in 2005 (Katrina and Wilma) created a hole from which they never dug out. The special assessments that their members were forced to pay for damage that should have been covered by their insurance carriers made them less able to bear the current real estate market conditions.

Time is running out to help associations that may have been impacted by the inequities in the insurance claims process. Please visit a special website I helped create at www.wilmaclaims.com for more information about what you can do.

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