HOA master policy and water damage

11 Replies

I recently had a condo receive water damage from the unit above, there was enough water that it damaged my unit and the unit bellow me. Apparently there is what's called the master insurance policy that is supposed to be put into effect first before any secondary or personal insurance can be used. The HOA company Surhco has refused to enact the policy, what options are available

@Mark Kao I would suggest talking to the property management company that covers the HOA first and foremost. Let them know the situation and then go from there. The HOA should be on top of the situation, as in they should be coordinating all the vendors through the insurance company. It sounds like that is not happening.

The next course of action after reaching out to the HOA would be to seek legal advice if no one is willing to start work. The legal council maybe able to stir up the insurance company to handle the issue without actually suing them. This will be a long process, especially since you have already been trying to get them to work on the issue already with no luck.

I was managing a property that had the same thing happen, and the HOA was on the ball; however, the bad part was that they whole time the construction was in progress they had to stick to the city permitting process. This created the issue of tenants breaking the lease and a three month rehab project.

Oh, you actually think the HOA is going to pay for something?

Based on my experience with HOAs, here's how I think this will go down. I'm assuming this is a burst pipe in the unit above you. If the pipe is a common pipe that feeds several units, then the HOA will be responsible. If it's a pipe that feeds that individual unit, then the HOA will say they're not responsible. 

If the latter is true, then your recourse is to file a claim with your own insurance. There may be some way to file against the other owner's policy. Or perhaps your insurance will pay your claim and then go after them.

Condo HOAs are masters of separating common from individual responsibilities. 

Their washer machine failed and dumped all the water out. First thing I did was file a claim with my insurance company, but due to how the ccr's is written, the master policy needs to be used first. Could I upgrade my personal insurance to prevent this in the future?

also dealing with the "property management" of suhrco has been interesting at best. I asked why would we (owners) pay for a policy we couldn't use, he responded that it was useable but had to be approved. I asked by who, and he hasn't responded 

Have you tried contacting the association's insurer directly?  You might get more of a straight answer by doing so.  My association's bylaws mandate that the board maintains a certain amount of insurance, and I would assume that your associations bylaws do the same.  If the board doesn't follow the bylaws, then the board and/or the association might be legally liable for your damages.

We have a $20K deductible for water-related claims before the master coverage kicks in, and an owner's personal insurance would cover the deductible.

I think you're going the wrong way on this one.  Typically, the hoa is responsible for failure of Their pipes, the "common" pipes in between walls and ceilings.  Individual owners own the pipes once they penetrate the inside of the walls.  And this is not even a failed pipe issue.  They are Not responsible for someone's washing machine inside their unit malfunctioning......and it is Totally unreasonable for you to think they should be.  

The hoa master policy is Not in play here, so you need to push Your insurance co., and they can go after the responsible party's insurance.  This is pretty basic stuff here.

Do you think the hoa (which does include you) should be responsible if your 8 year old turns on the water in the tub, then let's it overflow for hours?

Allstate (my company) read through the bylaws of the CCR's. The property mgmt even "agreed" that the master policy in theory could be applied, but won't

Update, the HOA has "updated" the insurance policy with a new policy and new deductible. It was previously 5k now its 20k

Each HOA is different, so the key here is to read your By-Laws and maybe even the Declarations to find out what YOUR HOA considers to be a "Limited Column Element".

What @Fred Heller said (with an unnecessary amount of snark) is essentially what is most likely to happen. Pipes that serve only one unit are generally considered to belong to THAT unit and any failure in that pipe is the fault of the owner of that unit. Any pipe that serves more than one unit is generally considered to belong to the HOA and if that is what failed, then the HOA will be responsible. (That's how HOAs work, Fred - not because they are trying to be jerks, but because that's the definition of what they have previously spelled out that they will LEGALLY be responsible for). The key here is to know what's in your HOA documents.

Generally what happens in a situation like this is that you would make a claim on your insurance and then they would subrogate it to the responsible party (either the HOA or the other unit owner), so I'm surprised that your insurance company is giving you the run around.

Make sure you've got a written statement from YOUR plumber indicating where the plumbing fault came from and, before you patch the drywall, get the HOAs plumber in to look as well (if they have one).  The HOAs that I manage have a plumber/contractor on call for just these types of altercations.  He knows the property inside and out and knows how the plumbing is put together and is able to assess fault pretty rapidly.  His assessment has held up in court the two times we've been called (out of literally dozens of failed pipes).  

Originally posted by @Wayne Brooks :

I think you're going the wrong way on this one.  Typically, the hoa is responsible for failure of Their pipes, the "common" pipes in between walls and ceilings.  Individual owners own the pipes once they penetrate the inside of the walls.  And this is not even a failed pipe issue.  They are Not responsible for someone's washing machine inside their unit malfunctioning......and it is Totally unreasonable for you to think they should be.  

The hoa master policy is Not in play here, so you need to push Your insurance co., and they can go after the responsible party's insurance.  This is pretty basic stuff here.

Do you think the hoa (which does include you) should be responsible if your 8 year old turns on the water in the tub, then let's it overflow for hours?

Completely agree with you on this one! 

I'll have to recheck the original report on weather it was the washer itself or the connecting pipe. The property mgmt stated that the damage did fall under the master policy, then gave a run around 

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