Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Condo Associations

Commercial Lines What You Need to Know About Policy ExclusionsChoosing the appropriate insurance products for an association often involves a lengthy review process with many facets that require your attention. One overlooked detail can adversely impact the association both legally and financially.

All property insurance policies contain exclusions. An exclusion is a policy provision that eliminates coverage for some type of risk. Exclusions narrow the scope of coverage provided by the insuring agreement.

Insurance policies have exclusions for several reasons, including:

  • For Catastrophic Risks – A standard insurance policy does not typically cover catastrophic risks, such as wind, or wind driven rain, but sometimes coverage is available through an endorsement, or a separate policy.
  • To Reduce Duplicate Coverage – Insurance companies want to avoid the confusion of determining which policy should cover which loss. Some exclusions are designed to help clarify those differences.
  • To Keep Premiums Reasonable – Excluding perils not faced by the average customer helps insurance carriers control premiums. If you require more unique coverages, you can usually eliminate some exclusions by purchasing endorsements at an additional cost.

Boards should look carefully at the exclusions for each insurance policy and consider additional coverage to mitigate any gaps or deficiencies. In doing so, it is critical to work with an insurance agency that specializes in condominium association insurance and can offer the necessary resources and expertise.

Boards and managers should periodically initiate an outside review of their association’s insurance program.  The review should include an exclusions analysis to identify exposures that are not covered. Although it is impossible to mitigate all risk, being educated and understanding potential exposures is key to making informed decisions on coverage.

If you are interested in a review of your association’s insurance program, please contact a trusted client advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. We insure over 700 associations throughout Florida, offering professional service from experienced and knowledgeable personnel who specialize in associations and understand their unique exposures.

Joe Thompson is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in managing risk for community associations and various contractorsComments and questions are welcome at jthompson@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines 2020 Insurance Market Update for AssociationsFor many associations, insurance premiums are the largest overhead cost, so it’s very important to accurately forecast any changes. Each year, we review market conditions and trends that may impact your insurance renewal premiums, providing you with an educated look at how they may impact your association’s budget.

2020 is proving to be the most challenging market our industry has faced in years. Many clients are experiencing difficult renewals where they are encountering rate increases, deductible changes, and/or reduced coverage from carriers. In addition, the magnitude of COVID-related losses and the impact facing the insurance industry is unknown.

As we continue through 2020, you can expect Property rates to continue to climb; social inflation to drive Liability pricing; and the hard market for D&O and Excess Casualty to continue as carrier concerns remain.

We are breaking down what you can anticipate for the remainder of 2020, including current renewals, as you begin the budget planning process for 2021.

Property
Property premiums generally are on the rise and carriers are utilizing more discipline when underwriting new and renewal business. From increasing rates, higher deductibles to fewer enhancements and stricter underwriting, even the best in class properties are feeling some pressure.

Carriers rely on computer modeling to manage their risk and to ensure rates are adequate. They are paying much closer attention to their models, not only across their books, but across each individually written policy. This means that clients with strong risk profiles and good loss history may be impacted.

  • Double digit rate increases can be expected. Non-CAT property with good loss history may see, on average 5% to 20% rate increases. CAT exposed property with good loss history can expect 15% to 30%+ rate increases. Accounts with poor loss history may see 30% to 60%+ rate increases.
  • Carriers may be looking to increase Wind Deductibles and limit or reduce coverage enhancements.

 

Ancillary (General Liability, Crime, D&O, Umbrella, Excess Liability)
Cyber and privacy issues continue to result in significant litigation, both from a regulatory and class action standpoint. Social inflation has created the most impact and disruption on umbrella and excess liability placements. Concerned with a litigious environment that is favorable to plaintiffs and increasing jury verdicts, carriers are pushing rate increases and tighter underwriting guidelines.

We expect primary and umbrella/excess casualty underwriters to maintain this stance throughout 2020.

We are seeing reduced capacity in primary and excess markets. Slip and fall claims combined with high medical costs have served to harden this market, particularly for habitational risks.

  • You can expect to liability rate increases between 2.5% and 15%.
  • Umbrella/Excess Liability rates continue to firm between 10% to 25%.

 

Flood
Flood insurance has been steadily increasing over the past several years and 2020 is no exception.  Flood insurance continues to see rate increases which varies by zone (VE, AE, X, etc.), with the percentage depending on the numerous variable risk characteristics of each property. New flood maps are currently being reviewed and associations will need to pay attention as to how any new map changes might affect their premiums.  While the overall map changes maybe anywhere from one to two years away from being adopted, it pays to be aware if these proposed maps will benefit your association or if they might negatively impact rates?  If so, there are steps that can be taken to “Grandfather” into current maps, if they are more favorable than the proposed ones.  We advise discussing this with your agent as each risk is unique.

Other Industry Issues & Considerations
Increased submission volume is allowing underwriters to be more selective. They are focusing on profitability and can be selective in what they underwrite.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Client Advisor who can offer assistance. We are here to help.

Gregory Havemeier, CIC, AAI, CIRMS is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Gregory works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at ghavemeier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines Water Transmission and COVID 19The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued clarification and guidance on COVID-19 and treated recreational water venues. The advice and answers provided are useful to swimmers, swim programs and swimming venues.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

While there is ongoing community spread of the virus, it is important for individuals, as well as operators of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds (for example, at hotels or apartment complexes or owned by communities) to take steps
to ensure health and safety:

  • Everyone should follow state, local, territorial, or tribal guidance that might determine when and how public pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds may operate and might include CDC considerations.
  • In addition to ensuring water quality and safety, operators of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds should follow guidance on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.

 

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?
The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?
CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although transmission of COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed.

SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. Data suggest that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronavirus, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.

Wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks.

For further information on water transmission and COVID-19, please visit the CDC website.

John Caballero, CIC, CRM is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in managing risk for community associations. Comments and questions are welcome at jcaballero@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Employee Benefits Understanding Legal Defense Policies in a Time of COVID 19The number one question every association wants to know is “do we have coverage for losses due to COVID-19?” This depends on your policies and the claims being brought forth. While the availability of insurance coverage for pandemic-related losses is still far from certain with most policies having explicit “virus” exclusions, it is important to understand alternative coverages that may provide an additional layer of protection. While this coverage has its strengths and limitations, Legal Defense insurance covers legal services as a result of a lawsuit where the insured is a defendant and coverage is not available under any of your in-force policies.

Coverage Highlights:

  • Provides legal defense when a lawsuit or claim is denied or excluded from coverage
  • No deductible
  • Fixed nominal premium

 

Who is usually covered under these policies?

  • The association
  • The officers and directors of the association
  • The manager and management company
  • Your employees

 

Coverage Exclusions & Limitations:

  • Requires reporting of ALL claims to carriers within a strict time period
  • Excludes certain fees such as deposition or transcript costs, court reporter fees, expert witness fees, surveillance charges, investigator fees, and more
  • Excludes claims prior to or after expiration of this policy
  • Excludes claims filed outside the state of Florida
  • Excludes claims filed in Criminal Court and lawsuits filed in Federal Court except service animal, emotional support animal, discrimination in housing or ADA
  • Does not provide any indemnification

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to review your risk management portfolio to ensure that you understand what coverages you have, the limitations of those coverages, and what coverages you do not have that you may want to consider to help prepare for a potential future crisis. Although these types of policies seem attractive and well-priced, they should be fully understood before considering the coverage. If you would like to learn more, please contact us.

Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map Changes & FAQsIn late 2019, FEMA released preliminary revisions to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) in Florida. With many homeowners, unit owners, and associations compelled to purchase Flood insurance annually, this created many questions as to how the revisions may affect policyholders’ premiums. This is a topic that Gulfshore Insurance has been monitoring closely.

The FIRM shows the “flood zone” of a particular area. A building’s flood zone, along with other factors, is a direct contributor to the Flood insurance premium associated with the policy. A lesser risk flood zone can mean significantly lesser premiums. But, for those buildings now preliminary rated in a higher risk zone, it could mean significantly higher Flood insurance premiums. This is especially true for coastal properties. To make matters more confusing, these FIRM maps are extremely detailed. Your property may be moved into a higher risk zone than it previously was, and your adjacent neighbor may remain unchanged.

There is some reassurance. At Gulfshore, your insurance agent is familiar with the nuances of Flood insurance, and they will be able to determine a strategy that puts your property in position for the best possible rates when these maps do finally go into effect.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When are the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps taking effect?

  • The target date to take effect is late 2021 or early 2022.
  • Local officials point out it could be much later based on hearings and proceedings.
  • At the time of writing this article, local hearings have not yet been held.

 

Who are the new FIRM maps impacting?

  • It is important to understand that each property must be researched independently because FIRM maps are very detailed. Your property may be impacted by the change, but your adjacent neighbor’s may not be.

 

Can I “Grandfather” my property so my flood zone doesn’t change?

  • The preliminary map proposals have not done away with grandfathering and it remains a viable option if it is to your benefit. Your Gulfshore Insurance agent will be researching this.

 

For more preliminary FIRM revision details, visit your county website flood page:

Jeff Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at jsanders@gulfshoreinsurance.com