Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The games insurance companies play.

I met with a potential new client recently and asked the same question I always ask communities as the 5-year Statute of Limitations winds down on the ability to bring a claim for Hurricane Wilma damage: Did you suffer any damage from Wilma?

The answer was a resounding YES followed by, "and we were ripped off by our insurance company"! After some more delving into the situation, this board (which was not the same board in place at the time the damage occurred 4 1/2 years ago) advised me that they were told by the insurance company's adjuster that they suffered $480,000 in damages which was, fortunately for the insurance company, less than their $500,000 deductible! Of course, the damage to the roof was not taken into account by the adjuster for a variety of reasons they did not clearly understand.

I advised the board that they not only had a claim that had exceeded their deductible but had probably exceeded it by well over a million dollars after damage to the roof, windows and structure was taken into account. They, like many other well-meaning volunteer boards, were duped into believing they simply didn't have a claim. Of course, it is better for business if insurance customers don't get pushy and demand to be made whole when they suffer a loss; even better for business if they are too scared of being canceled or having their rates raised to file a claim in the first place.

There is a 5-year statute of limitations in the State of Florida on casualty claims. If your community suffered damage from Hurricane Wilma in October, 2005 and you are not certain that your claim was properly handled, you owe it to yourselves and to your members to find out for sure before it is too late. If you were fortunate enough not to have suffered damage from Wilma, make sure you fully understand your rights and how the insurance industry operates before the wind blows again which it undoubtedly will. I have created a special website to inform Floridians about this rapidly closing window of opportunity to pursue Hurricane Wilma claims. Please visit if you are interested.


  1. I own a unit that includes one parking space, which is near the entrance, as an appurtenance. It has been rented for 8 years with the same parking space. Recently, the president of the board re-assigned my space for his personal use, as he was having knee surgery and needed to be closer to the elevator. I was only notified via email of the change when I unknowingly blocked his car in. Is what he did legal?

  2. I own a unit that includes one parking space as an appurtenance to each unit. I have been renting the apartment for 8 years with the same parking space. Recently, the president of the board re-assigned my space near the front entrance to himself as he was having knee surgery and needed to be closer to the elevator. I was not notified of the change until I blocked his wife's car in and he sent me an email the following day. Is that legal?

  3. When parking spaces are appurtenances to the units, they cannot be assigned or re-assigned by the board. They are part of the unit and are deeded with the unit. Something is very wrong if your board is trying to assign appurtenances to the unit. The owner of the unit/landlord must address this with the board immediately as it affects his or her property rights.

  4. Thank you for you response. After reviewing the deed, I noticed nowhere is the parking space number listed. Does that make a difference? Also, is there a sample letter in this case that I can use as a guide to write to the board?
    Thanks again,

  5. If your deed does not reference a particular parking space that means it is most likely not an appurtenance to your unit. You must check the definition section of your governing documents to see what is defined as common elements and limited common elements in your community.

    If the parking spaces are common elements, the board is able to freely assign and reassign them. There is no sample letter I can provide. I suggest that a meeting between you and the board is always preferable to a letter or an email. If that meeting is not successful then you may want to consider hiring a lawyer. However, if the parking spaces can be freely reassigned by the board you may just be out of luck.