Who Should Buy Flood Insurance — Owners or the Board?
Dec. 4, 2017
Question: We own a unit in a small condominium. Until recently, we have had flood insurance although we are not in a flood zone. Now a new owner is pushing for it, and the board is caving in. Are they legally required to have flood insurance if most owners do not want to pay the extra expense through our dues? – Shelley
Answer: Flood insurance is one of the most important investments for any homeowner to make in insuring their continued ability to keep the home. Due to the way that the insurance industry is structured, other types of insurance, such as the standard hazard policy that every homeowner should have, specifically exclude what flood insurance covers. Flood insurance is often government subsidized, making it very affordable. It is a mistake for any property owner who lives in or near a flood zone to not have this coverage.
The law requires your condo's leadership to use its best effort to fully insure itself, the condo's common areas and property for its full insurable value. Some boards will try to evade this relatively small expense by pointing out that the law does not specify what types of insurance must be maintained or that they are not in a flood zone. However, recent instances of rising water have shown us that flood insurance indeed is necessary. Other boards content themselves that concerned owners will insure their own units, but that coverage will not help when the common areas are damaged or destroyed.
To put it simply, it is potentially negligent for a board not to use its best efforts to fully insure the condo, including getting flood insurance. If a board purposefully does not do this, perhaps to save money, members are potentially exposing themselves to liability.
It is important for every board to try to keep the budget reasonable and save their neighbors from unnecessary expense. But this is not the place to cut corners.
About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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