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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

Community associations are seeing a surge in unit owners and residents who have confirmed cases of COVID-19. The majority of these infected individuals are prescribed at home “self-quarantine.” As an association, there are proactive steps that should be taken before there are any known cases in your association, as well as after you have a confirmed case present. As always, it is important to comply with recommendations from the CDC and other government organizations.

Proactive Steps:

Sanitation and Use of Common Area Amenities:

  • Conduct extensive cleaning, disinfecting, or wiping down of common areas and common area surfaces
  • Postpone or cancel all community events and meetings
  • Close common areas and amenities, such as gyms, clubhouses, and pools
  • Install hand sanitizer dispensers or wipes in common areas for owner and guest use
  • Recommend residents restrict guests to only those who are essential

 

Communication:

  • Use caution in communicating the board or association’s responsibility to keep sick people out. Rather, the association is taking proactive, precautionary measures, with the best interest of the health of unit owners and residents.
  • Consult legal counsel in communicating a general disclosure that the association and board members are not responsible for the health of individual unit owners and that all unit owners should be practicing the recommendations of CDC, Federal, State and Local government.
  • Communicate all recommendations and board decisions clearly to unit owners and residents. Utilize e-bulletins, website, newsletters and more.

 

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within your association:

  • Contact your association legal counsel immediately
  • Instruct your legal counsel and board to draft communication notifying residents (in drafting notification, legal counsel will navigate potential privacy and HIPPA laws and other legal risks associated with this notification process)

 

As an insurer of more than 700 Community Associations, Gulfshore Insurance is here to guide and assist you through these uncharted waters and unprecedented times. Please call or email us with your specific questions.

Click below for additional COVID-19 information and resources from the Community Association Institute.

COVID-19 Association Best Practices

 

Summary of NFIP Program Changes Effective April 1, 2020The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) recently announced changes effective April 1, 2020. These changes include:

  • Premiums will increase an average of 9.9%.
  • The Reserve Fund Assessment will increase to 18% and the Severe Repetitive Loss premium will increase to 10%.
  • Primary Residence Determination – when the property address and mailing address match, no additional documentation will be required before issuing the policy as the primary residence.
  • Non-Residential Flood-proofing Credit – FEMA has updated the process and outlined documents needed prior to submission.
  • V-Zone Risk Rating Factor Form – FEMA is discontinuing use of this form.

Below is a breakdown of the premium increase by Flood Zone:

Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) – Premiums will increase 12.5%

Pre-FIRM Subsidized Policies – SFHA Zones (A, A1-30, AE, AH, AO, AR, AR/A, AR/A1-30, AR/AE, AR/AH, AR/AO, V1-30, VE)

  • Primary Residences +7.5%
  • Non-Primary Residences +23.1%
  • Substantially Improved +23.8%
  • Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) Properties +24%
  • Non-Residential Business +24.2%

Other Subsidized Policies

  • A99 & AR Zones – Premiums will increase 4.2%

Post-FIRM V Zones

  • V Zones +5.6%

Post-FIRM A Zones

  • A1-30 AE +4.1%
  • AH, AHB, AO, AOB +2.7%
  • Unnumbered A Zones +5.1%

X Zones

  • Standard Rated X zones +3.8%