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Insurance Considerations post-Baltimore

Let me start with the caveat that I am not getting into the political or race issues at the heart of recent events in Baltimore. However, from the point-of-view of someone working in construction and insurance law, the insurance and rebuilding questions created by the protests/riots in these cities is of great interest. Although the specific article here references insurance issues and struggles to rebuild in Maryland, similar concerns and analyses would apply anywhere that such events take place. As the article from Insurance Business America notes, many small businesses have been unable to reopen post damage as they are caught in a web of what is and is not covered under their applicable policies. Many questions loom: does the property insurance policy afford coverage; what about the Business Interruption policy; what are the applicable deductibles? As is typical of any insurance coverage the devil is in the details of the specific...

Citizens Property Insurance Not Liable for First Party Bad Faith Claims

Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in Citizens Property Insurance Corp., v. Perdido Sun Condominium Association, Inc., considering the issue as to whether Citizens Property Insurance could be liable for First Party Bad Faith Claims.  The Supreme Court determined that Citizens was not liable for such claims and that no exception for such claims existed from Citizens statutory immunity.  This places Citizens in a different position, in regard to insureds, than other insurance carriers who may be offering similar property policies. The issue in was whether the Legislature intended CitizensProperty Insurance Corporation, a state-created entity that provides property insurance, to be liable for statutory first-party bad faith claims as an exception to its statutory immunity from suit.  The issue had come before the Supreme Court from the First District's decision in Perdido Sun Condominium Ass’n v. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., 129 So. 3d 1210 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014), which...

Preparing for the 2015 Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season is defined as running from June 1 through November 30.  No one bothered to tell that to Tropical Storm Ana which hit South Carolina over the weekend.  The Ana had sustained winds of 45 mph at landfall and brought anywhere between 2"-6" of rain depending on location.  The early start of the hurricane season does not mean that we will necessarily have more hurricanes or what the severity of those hurricanes will be.  However, it is always good to be prepared and plan ahead. The next few weeks will be important to finalize, or even start, our personal and business hurricane preparedness plans.  Even if you do not have one yet there is still time to prepare. Below is a 12-point Hurricane Preparedness Checklist for condominium and homeowner associations to prepare for the 2015 hurricane season: 1. Disaster Plan – If you have a disaster plan be ready...

The Anatomy of a Water Leak

For those of us who live or work in a condominium, it is easy to lose sight of all of the infrastructure that operates behind the scenes to make a condominium a home.  When that infrastructure fails, it can be inconvenient, or it can easily be disastrous in the case of a water leak.  While the damage from a water leak can be immense, there are ways to avoid or at least reduce the impact from them, if you are proactive before and after they occur, and know your rights and responsibilities.   Taking steps like establishing inspection, maintenance and replacement schedules, and installing water leak detection systems, air conditioner pan alarms and remote sensors wired to master valve shut-offs can prevent problems from becoming a disaster.  In the event of a water leak, condominium associations should take advantage of their right to access units to protect common elements and other units,...

The Bonus Value of Your Liability Insurance Policy: Litigation Defense

Your liability policy's value goes beyond its coverage of losses up to its stated policy limit. Especially if you find yourself in a complex lawsuit with numerous parties, your policy could provide significant value by obligating your insurance company to pay your attorneys' fees and costs. Therefore, when faced with a potentially-covered claim, it is important to not only give notice to your liability carrier, but also request that your carrier defend you against the claim, to make sure you get the full value out of your policy....

The “New” in Renew; Potential Changes to Insurance Policy Eligibility Requirements and Coverage Upon Renewal

Simply because you identified an appropriate policy and adequate coverage at some point in the past, does not mean that the policy is appropriate and the coverage is adequate for you now. Therefore, when you receive a renewal notice from your insurance company, it is best to fully re-evaluate your insurance coverage instead of blindly submitting the renewal premium....

Design Professional Liability Legislation (Again)

For the third year in a row, the state legislature has introduced legislation to protect architects, engineers and other design professionals from claims for negligence in the performance of their professional services. In 2010 a bill passed both legislative houses but was vetoed by Governor Crist. Last year the bill did not get as far, but apparently proponents of the bill believe the third time may be the charm. Unfortunately, as in prior years this legislation is anti-consumer. Senate Bill 286, linked here, would provide that architects or engineers would no longer be personally liable for negligence arising out of their professional services. This would essentially limit people hiring these design professionals to breach of contract claims against the design professional’s business entity. This is a problem because most design contracts limit the design professional’s liability to some paltry amount that pales in comparison to the harm that comes from defective design. The steps that the...

Covering Complex Construction Risks Under An OCIP

Risk management practices are older than the building of Babylon (Hammurabi Code 1780 B.C.). However, the comprehensive risk management program which protects the Owner’s budget, known as an Owner-Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP), has only been available in the market place for about 20 years. “Wrap-ups”, as they are also called, were originally thought to be available only for projects in excess of $100M. Now, smaller projects of $30M or more are good candidates for OCIP benefits in today’s marketplace mainly due to the economy driving down pricing.  An OCIP’s hallmarks are its cost-effective, broad coverage for every enrolled Contractor, subcontractor, and some vendors (typically those who perform work on the job site); its safety record and reduced lost time due to injury; its reduced litigation between insured Contractors; and its responsible and financially reliable insurers which stand behind the coverage for the years before, during, and after the project is...

Tropical Storm Isaac – Update

Isaac is slowly moving and appears to be taking a more westward trajectory.  Per the National Hurricane Center: A Hurricane Warning is in effect for: The Florida Keys including the Dry Tortugas, The West Coast of Florida from Bonita Beach southward and Florida Bay. This means that hurricane conditions are expected in these areas and the tropical storm force winds can be expected in 36 hours. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Florida East Coast from Golden Beach southward. This means that hurricane conditions are possible (as opposed to expected) within the next 24-36 hours. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for: Inland Collier County, the Florida East Coast from Jupiter Inlet southward and Lake Okeechobee. This means that tropical storm conditions are expected in these areas within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida East Coast north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet. This means that tropical storm conditions...