Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

Previous | Next
 rated by 0 users
Latest post 11-17-2012 4:03 AM by jazzakbart. 58 replies.
  • 05-31-2011 8:49 PM

    Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    I live on the 3rd floor of a condo in Virginia.  The drain in my bathtub developed a leak that has caused some water damage to the ceiling of the unit below mine.  I have been doing some research to try and determine how the parties involved should proceed with repairing the damage.  Assuming there is no negligence on my part, it is my understanding that my insurance should cover the damage to my unit, the owner of the unit below mine should use their insurance to cover the damage to their unit, and the condo association should use their insurance to cover the damage made to the common area between the floor and the ceiling of the two units.  Is this correct?  Could something in the Condo Association's Rules and Regs override this?

    The representitive of the property management company that maintains the condos seems to think the responsibility is mine to cover the costs of the repairs to the unit below mine (though he didn't cite anything specific to back that up), and the claims representitive for the owner below me is also suggesting that my insurance should cover their repairs, but when talking to my claims representitive, she is in agreement with me, and that unless there is negligence involved, my insurance does not cover my neighbor's unit.

    Where can I get something in writing that I can provide to all parties involved to explain how this is supposed to work?  I've been searching online and have found other examples of people in my situation, but no one ever cites anything concrete as to why.  Or, maybe I am totally off-base, in which case I would like to know that, too. :-)

    TIA,

    -David

  • 05-31-2011 9:21 PM In reply to

    • DPH
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 10-08-2001
    • TX
    • Posts 7,173

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    David Collins:
    Where can I get something in writing that I can provide to all parties involved to explain how this is supposed to work?

    Work with YOUR claim rep or agent and let them deal with your neighbors and the proptery management company.  I wouldn't try to convince anybody of anything.  Zip it!

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • 05-31-2011 10:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    David Collins:
    I live on the 3rd floor of a condo in Virginia.  The drain in my bathtub developed a leak that has caused some water damage to the ceiling of the unit below mine.  I have been doing some research to try and determine how the parties involved should proceed with repairing the damage.  Assuming there is no negligence on my part

    It's almost a certainty that there was no negligence on your part.

    David Collins:
    it is my understanding that my insurance should cover the damage to my unit, the owner of the unit below mine should use their insurance to cover the damage to their unit, and the condo association should use their insurance to cover the damage made to the common area between the floor and the ceiling of the two units.  Is this correct?

    Yes, that's exactly correct.

    However, my experience as a claim rep is that your floor joists which are the downstairs neighbor's ceiling joists generally don't sustain any water damage of any note. It's generally related to the ceiling drywall and paint which the downstairs neighbor's policy should cover.

    Your policy will cover the cost of accessing the drain for repairs and restoring your floor or whatever, but won't pay for the repair to the drain itself. If you can't find that in your policy or your own claims rep can't explain it I'll cover it later.

    David Collins:
    Could something in the Condo Association's Rules and Regs override this?

    It could, but I've never seen a set of CC&Rs that does. Read yours.

    David Collins:
    The representitive of the property management company that maintains the condos seems to think the responsibility is mine to cover the costs of the repairs to the unit below mine (though he didn't cite anything specific to back that up),

    He is clueless. He probably hasn't even read the CC&Rs. Which is why you should read them thoroughly and carefully and use the yellow markin pens for the appropriate sections like the kids due to textbooks. Your knowledge is your power.

    David Collins:
    the claims representitive for the owner below me is also suggesting that my insurance should cover their repairs

    Sure, and if he can get you snowed, his company saves some money. But, no, you aren't negligent, you have no liability for the downstairs damage. Period. That's all you have to be telling him or just clam up and not talk to anybody except your own claim rep.

    David Collins:
    but when talking to my claims representitive, she is in agreement with me, and that unless there is negligence involved, my insurance does not cover my neighbor's unit.

    That's an oversimplification. Your policy doesn't cover your neighbor's unit for anything, ever. Your policy covers YOU for claims brought against you by others for damage to their property that they allege you caused due to negligence. Your policy pays if you are negligent, defends you if you aren't, but also reserves the right to pay even if you aren't negligent if your insurance feels that paying would avoid large litigation costs. If you can't find that in your policy, let me know and I'll tell you where to look.

    David Collins:
    Where can I get something in writing that I can provide to all parties involved to explain how this is supposed to work? 

    You probably can't (other that what I am writing here based on 35 years in the insurance business and many years as a claim rep handling 100s of similar condo claims.

    David Collins:
    I've been searching online and have found other examples of people in my situation, but no one ever cites anything concrete as to why

    Negligence law is common law (based on case decisions and rarely based on statutes) so unless you are willing to go to a law libriary and study negligence law, and read case decisions, you aren't going to be able to show anybody anything (unless you want to show them what I've written. LOL).

    And you shouldn't have to.

    All you need to do is say no to the management company, say no to the neighbor and the neighbor's insurance rep, and then stop talking.

    Let your claim rep take care of your unit, and ignore what's going on downstairs.

    Come back to this thread if you have any more questions. I'm kinda the go to guy for insurance questions here.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 06-01-2011 2:09 AM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    Thanks for the replies.  I guess I was trying to be a good neighbor and stay peaceful with the owner of the unit below, maybe even educating them a bit, but it is probably a lost cause.

    I do have a question about a technicality, with regard to one thing you said:

    adjuster jack:
    Your policy will cover the cost of accessing the drain for repairs and restoring your floor or whatever, but won't pay for the repair to the drain itself.

    When my neighbor came to me and told me there was water coming through the ceiling in her unit, I stopped using that bathroom and arranged for a plumber to come out the next day and do the repairs.

    It wasn't obvious where the leak was coming from, so they opened a hole in her ceiling to examine the pipes and check for leaks from below.  When it was determined the leak was from around the drain area, they were able to replace the seal on the drain from above. Opening her already damaged ceiling was a more cost effective option than tearing out the tile in my bathroom and lifting out the tub to check the pipes.  I paid the plumber for the cost of the repairs, and now she has a hole in her ceiling.

    If she decides that she doesn't want to use her insurance to cover the cost of removing the remaining damaged drywall and restoring her ceiling and walls to their original condition, would it be up to my insurance to cover the repair of the hole that was made during the investigation of the leak?

    I realize it would be silly to patch that hole without fixing the rest of the damage at the same time, but I can also see her point of view that before "my plumber" came in and cut a hole to investigate, she at least had a ceiling that was in tact, even if it did have some water damage.

    So I guess my question is: would my insurance cover patching the hole that was created "when accessing the area for repair," even though it is in her unit?

    Thanks for your advice.

    -David

  • 06-01-2011 7:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    "If she decides that she doesn't want to use her insurance to cover the cost of removing the remaining damaged drywall and restoring her ceiling and walls to their original condition, would it be up to my insurance to cover the repair of the hole that was made during the investigation of the leak?"

    No, she reports it to her insurance.  Or she pays out out of pocket if she doesn't want to report it.  Then the two companies fight it out.  That is why you both pay for coverage.  

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • 06-01-2011 9:09 AM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    David Collins:

    Thanks for the replies.  I guess I was trying to be a good neighbor and stay peaceful with the owner of the unit below, maybe even educating them a bit, but it is probably a lost cause.

    Probably.

    Love goes out the door when money comes in the window.

    David Collins:

    So I guess my question is: would my insurance cover patching the hole that was created "when accessing the area for repair," even though it is in her unit?

    Under the circumstances you describe, yes.

    Your policy has a condition that goes something like this:

    • Protect the property from further damage. If repairs to the property are required, you must:
    •           a.  Make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property; and
    •           b.  Keep an accurate record of repair expenses;

    It's located in a section called something like Duties After a Loss.

    So, when you incur costs that reduce the potential claim under your policy, your insurance company should reimburse you for the lower cost.

    In other words, if it costs 1000 to go through the neighbor's ceiling and restore it instead of 3000 to go through your tile floor and restore it, your adjuster should cheerfully cover that.

    However, that's not part of your Liability section, it's an extension of your Section 1 property coverage and subject to your deductible so you might be out of pocket for your deductible, which you would have been anyway had you gone through your tile floor.

    Discuss this with your own company's adjuster and have him deal with the neighbor or the neighbor's insurance rep. Your company adjuster will know how to get that settled without admitting any liability for anything else, as it's possible that there might be water damage other than where the access hole was made.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 10-19-2011 11:30 AM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    I have a very similar situation, except I would be in the position of the downstairs neighbor. I own my unit and I would not like to get my insurance company involved because the deductible is sky high... lesson learned for the future, but obviously we're dealing with the hear and now.

    The unit above me had a worn out seal on the washing machine which eventually gave way, allowing water to gush out that caused floor to ceiling water damage in my unit below. His insurance company informed me that he was not liable because there was no negligence on his part. But I now have holes in my ceiling in two separate areas, because "his plumber" cut into my ceiling to investigate. How do I approach the the claims rep to receive coverage for the holes? And is their a chance they'll paint the rest of my ceiling, which also has water damage spots - or just fix the wholes only?

    There is a little more depth to this situation... After the plumber cut wholes and left, he informed the tenant above me NOT TO RUN THE WASHING MACHINE, until it could get fixed or replaced. Well, the actual tenant was out of the country and had his elderly father come in from out of town to care for his unit while he was gone. The elderly father is the one who recieved the instructions from the plumber to not run the washer. Two days later, before the washer had been fixed, I find new spots on my ceiling and the spots that were already there were getting bigger. This all happened while I had a dry out process going on in my condo - with 9 different drying units blowing through my house trying to get things dry. Obviously any additional amount of water coming into my unit would be counterproductive to my dryout process, let alone a washer that uses 45 gallons of water per use.

    As it turns out, the father admitted to two different people that - yes - he indeed run the washer after he was told not to. I know this because I've talked with these two individuals personally, and they both have told me this was the case (neither of these individuals are related to me or work for me, one is rep for the restoration company, and the other is rep from the owner's insurance company). So I filed a liability claim against the renter's insurance company, and they came back and denied me coverage because they are claiming that their insured is denying that the washer was run (he was out of the country though, and had no way of knowing this), and that the father is also adamantly denying he ran it. I asked if they contacted the other two individuals about this and if they got statements from them. Their response was that they only called one of the individuals, and according to the claims rep, this individual stated that "he thinks the father may have run it." In regards to the second individual, they were reluctant to even call him because he works for the owner's insurance company and is therefore considered their "opponent", but after some appealing - they finaly decided to call him. Which is where I stand right now, and I am confident he will tell them what he told me.

    The insurance company told me that even if this is second individual states that the father did run the washer, it's not a for sure thing they'll even grant me coverage... What more could they need?

    Now I realize, the father running the washer is not the primary cause of loss, so if there is negligence - they may not be able to cover the whole thing, could they? What I am primarily interested in is the secondary cause of loss at this point which is the dry out job that was ruined. I'd like for them to cover my expenses for the dry out process that I had going on during that time, because it was ruined by their insured's father. I think the negligence would fall on the insured, because he put an irresponsible individual in place to watch and care for his unit. I think someone who can't follow simple directions, then adamantly lies to cover himself, would be classified as irresponsible.

    I let them know I am reasonable guy and would be willing to come to some kind of agreement with them, but they are stonewalling me at every turn.

  • 10-19-2011 3:32 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    JonPatrick:

    The unit above me had a worn out seal on the washing machine which eventually gave way, allowing water to gush out that caused floor to ceiling water damage in my unit below. His insurance company informed me that he was not liable because there was no negligence on his part. But I now have holes in my ceiling in two separate areas, because "his plumber" cut into my ceiling to investigate. How do I approach the the claims rep to receive coverage for the holes? And is their a chance they'll paint the rest of my ceiling, which also has water damage spots - or just fix the wholes only?

    As I explained earlier, this is not part of the upstair's owner's liability coverage, it's part of the property coverage for his unit. When the cost of accessing the leak from below is less than the cost of accessing the leak through the upstairs unit, the policy should cover that cost. It does not pay for the cost to repair the leak, just for making the holes and repairing the holes. It would not cover repairing or repainting the rest of the ceiling that was damaged due to the leak.

    The upstairs unit owner also has a deductible, probably $250 or $500, maybe even more. . Opening the holes was probably included in the plumbers bill paid by the upstairs owner. My experience tells me that the cost of repairing and repainting just those areas would not likely exceed the deductible. So the upstairs owner would have to reimburse you out of his own pocket, so you'd have to deal directly with him rather than his insurance company.

    JonPatrick:

    There is a little more depth to this situation... After the plumber cut wholes and left, he informed the tenant above me NOT TO RUN THE WASHING MACHINE, until it could get fixed or replaced. Well, the actual tenant was out of the country and had his elderly father come in from out of town to care for his unit while he was gone. The elderly father is the one who recieved the instructions from the plumber to not run the washer. Two days later, before the washer had been fixed, I find new spots on my ceiling and the spots that were already there were getting bigger. This all happened while I had a dry out process going on in my condo - with 9 different drying units blowing through my house trying to get things dry. Obviously any additional amount of water coming into my unit would be counterproductive to my dryout process, let alone a washer that uses 45 gallons of water per use.

    As it turns out, the father admitted to two different people that - yes - he indeed run the washer after he was told not to

    That gets a little more complicated but not much.

    There appears to be negligence on the part of the father, who was acting as agent for the owner, thereby making the owner responsible for his actions.

    The upstairs owner's liability coverage should cover the DIFFERENCE between the cost of repairs as it existed prior to the additional damage and the damage as it exists today.

    My experience tells me that a large percentage of the damage occurred prior to the running of the washer by the father.

    What you would have to do is get the liability adjuster out to try to assess the difference in the amount of damage. Unfortunately, you won't like the results because, if anything, you might just get a fraction of your repair bill and still have to incur the rest of the cost yourself.

    JonPatrick:

    I let them know I am reasonable guy and would be willing to come to some kind of agreement with them, but they are stonewalling me at every turn.

    Then I suggest you get your dry out and repair companies to itemize the costs and separate them into pre- and post-father's negligence.

    Carefully document the condition of the premises with dated photos at frequent intervals and when all the work is finished and you have paid for it, sue the upstairs owner for the portion of the bill applicable to the negligence of his father.

    Once the upstair's owner relays the summons and complaint to his insurance company, it's likely that the insurance company will make some sort of effort to settle with you rather than go to court over something that they are likely to lose.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 10-20-2011 4:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    Thank you Jack! Another question... The day following the initial damage and visit by the plumber, the property management team for the owner of the unit above me called and apologized to me for all the damages that went into my place, and guaranteed me that they would take care of all the damages to my unit. She went on to explain that I wouldn't have to worry about anything, and that all this would all be covered by them. She then dispatched a water restoration company to my house so the dry out process could begin. I thanked her for being super thorough, and she thanked me for my patience.

    My question is what is qualified as an admission of liability? I've tried contacting her via e-mail in regards to this, and she has gone into silence and will not return my e-mails.

    When all this happened she took the bull by the horns and I didn't even get a say about which company I would prefer to have come do the restoration to my unit; she handled all of it and now I'm stuck with their choice of company and the bill.

  • 10-20-2011 5:21 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    Sorry, one more question...

    Also, the owner's insurance company denied my liability claim because it is their opinion there was no negligence. But who is to say that he was not negligent in the failure to maintain his washing machine properly? According to the work order and documentation from the plumber, the washer is well over 10 years old. That is way beyond any warranty that would be in place.  I haven't addressed the aging machine issue with the claims rep yet, but as for now even if he weren't negligent according to the opinion of his insurance company, I could still sue and allege negligence in my law suit, correct?

  • 10-20-2011 5:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    JonPatrick:

    Thank you Jack! Another question... The day following the initial damage and visit by the plumber, the property management team for the owner of the unit above me called and apologized to me for all the damages that went into my place, and guaranteed me that they would take care of all the damages to my unit. She went on to explain that I wouldn't have to worry about anything, and that all this would all be covered by them. She then dispatched a water restoration company to my house so the dry out process could begin. I thanked her for being super thorough, and she thanked me for my patience.

    My question is what is qualified as an admission of liability?

    No. Not a bit.

    JonPatrick:

    I've tried contacting her via e-mail in regards to this, and she has gone into silence and will not return my e-mails.

    When all this happened she took the bull by the horns and I didn't even get a say about which company I would prefer to have come do the restoration to my unit; she handled all of it and now I'm stuck with their choice of company and the bill.

    Why are you being stuck with the bill?

    When the restoration company came to your unit, did you not confirm with them, in writing, that the management company was paying?

    JonPatrick:
    the owner's insurance company denied my liability claim because it is their opinion there was no negligence. But who is to say that he was not negligent in the failure to maintain his washing machine properly? According to the work order and documentation from the plumber, the washer is well over 10 years old. That is way beyond any warranty that would be in place.  I haven't addressed the aging machine issue with the claims rep yet, but as for now even if he weren't negligent according to the opinion of his insurance company, I could still sue and allege negligence in my law suit, correct?

    Correct, you can sue and "allege" negligence. But you would have to prove (with evidence) that he was negligent. He wouldn't have to prove that he wasn't.

    That the machine was 10 years old has nothing to do with anything.

    You would have to show that the owner knew of a defect and failed to remedy the defect.

    Unfortunately, the discharge of water from an appliance is almost always sudden and unforseen. That would not be negligence even if it was 20 years old.

    There's certainly nothing stopping you from suing. But when you tell the judge he's negligent because the washing machine was 10 years old, you'll lose.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 10-24-2011 3:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    I have a very similar situation on my hands as well. I also find my self in the position of the downstairs neighbor, and yes, also not wanting to get my insurance involved.

    Since the upstairs insurance company will have to pay to fix my holes (because it was more cost effective), will they also have to pay for abestos abatement in the process? For instance, whne they do their repairs, they will have to tear out a little bit of dry wall to get an even area for them to patch, but in doing so they will kick up some dry wall dust. So they will need to have an abatement team come in for the minor demo that will need be done, because my unit has been positively tested for abestos in the last month.

    Secondly, since they opened the hole - I've developed a flea problem in my unit now. Exterminating companies have told me that when you open a hole in the ceiling, you open the door for fleas to come in, especially if there is water involved. It has been pretty miserable around my place dealing with all this. Will they cover a flea treatment or at least my expenses at Wal-Mart to pay for flea powder and spray?

    Thanks!

  • 10-24-2011 6:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    westinhill:
    Since the upstairs insurance company will have to pay to fix my holes (because it was more cost effective), will they also have to pay for abestos abatement in the process?

    No.

    Remember, this is not a liability issue, it's a first party property coverage on the upstairs owners policy. Asbestos is a pollutant as defined by the policy and the asbestos exposure was not directly caused by the leak, but by the repair. That's a big difference and a critical one when it comes to insurance.

    westinhill:
    Secondly, since they opened the hole - I've developed a flea problem in my unit now. Exterminating companies have told me that when you open a hole in the ceiling, you open the door for fleas to come in, especially if there is water involved. It has been pretty miserable around my place dealing with all this. Will they cover a flea treatment or at least my expenses at Wal-Mart to pay for flea powder and spray?

    No.

    Insects are also excluded.

    You can find the pollutant and the insect exclusions in your own policy. They are standard exclusions.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 11-06-2011 11:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    adjuster jack:

    That gets a little more complicated but not much.

    There appears to be negligence on the part of the father, who was acting as agent for the owner, thereby making the owner responsible for his actions.

    The upstairs owner's liability coverage should cover the DIFFERENCE between the cost of repairs as it existed prior to the additional damage and the damage as it exists today.

    My experience tells me that a large percentage of the damage occurred prior to the running of the washer by the father.

    What you would have to do is get the liability adjuster out to try to assess the difference in the amount of damage. Unfortunately, you won't like the results because, if anything, you might just get a fraction of your repair bill and still have to incur the rest of the cost yourself.

     

    I appreciate your input. There is one area where I think we got our wires crossed though. It was the father of the tenant who ran the washer during my dry out, not the father of the owner as you stated. Does that make a difference?

    Also, I tried telling the renter's insurance company that their insured was liable because the renter's father was acting as agent for the renter while he was out of town. The claims rep said no way... he said they ran that through legal and there is no way that'll fly in court. Is this correct?

    Lastly, I have photos of my place proving damage. The photos I have document my place pre and post of the extended washing machine use. If I decide to attempt to sue, who is responsible? - the tenant (for his father's actions), the father (for his own actions), or the the owner of the unit (because ultimately it's his property)?

  • 11-07-2011 11:54 AM In reply to

    Re: Who's insurance covers condo damage? - no negligence

    JonPatrick:
    It was the father of the tenant who ran the washer during my dry out, not the father of the owner as you stated. Does that make a difference?

    Yes.

    That removes the responsibility from the unit owner as he has no real control over the actions of the tenant.

    JonPatrick:

    Also, I tried telling the renter's insurance company that their insured was liable because the renter's father was acting as agent for the renter while he was out of town. The claims rep said no way... he said they ran that through legal and there is no way that'll fly in court. Is this correct?

    I would argue the contrary but there is another way of looking at. One could say that the father was residing at the tenant's residence and therefore defined by the policy as "an insured." Thus, if you sued the father for his negligence, his negligence would be covered by the liability section of the tenant's policy.

    JonPatrick:
    Lastly, I have photos of my place proving damage. The photos I have document my place pre and post of the extended washing machine use. If I decide to attempt to sue, who is responsible? - the tenant (for his father's actions), the father (for his own actions), or the the owner of the unit (because ultimately it's his property)?

    The owner generally cannot be held responsible for the actions of his tenants. There would have to be extreme circumstances, like knowingly renting to someone running a meth lab. This situation would not rise to that extreme level.

    The best bet would be to sue the father and the tenant. The court might absolve the tenant of liability but if the father was deemed negligent the policy would still pay. And if it didn't you can still go after the father for wage garnishment, bank account levy, etc. Whether or not there is insurance available should not be a factor in your decision to take legal action against negligent parties.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
Page 1 of 4 (59 items) 1 2 3 4 Next > | RSS

My Community

Community Membership New Users: Search Community