Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

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Bob_Sacamano
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Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by Bob_Sacamano »

There was a water damage incident in my condo back in June. I came home one night to find my bathrooms and bedrooms flooded with water from the unit above. The person who rents that unit said his toilet overflowed on its own while he was at work. Now I have to admit my ignorance and lack of experience in situations like this so bear with me while I outline this mess. I immediately contacted my insurance provider to begin the claims process. My agent said we could open a claim and subrogate against the HOA for damages. I agreed to start that process so the mitigation team could begin their work and I could file for loss of use coverage.

My insurance agent recommended I reach out to the HOA to see if they would cover damages under their policy. The person who rents the unit above game me contact information for his "Property Manager" who I assumed was the HOA person in charge.. she is in fact just the owner of his unit. My memory is not great, but I remember her saying that the HOA's deductible is 10k and they would not allow me to file under their policy for this incident. I took her word for it thinking she actually had some authority on the matter and didn't contact actual HOA management about it (dumb I know). While speaking with the renter of the unit above, I learned that his "Property Manager" was formerly on the community board in some capacity. I haven't confirmed this yet but that's a conflict of interest isn't it?

Anyway, the subrogation process has been unsuccessful thus far since my insurance people cannot prove negligence on part of the person above. I did finally reach out to the actual HOA manager in charge who says he has limited knowledge of the incident since he was just hired. He shared a plumber's report showing the incident was inspected but it doesn't provide anything conclusive. The "Property Manager" claims she also hired a plumber to inspect her water lines and that their report says fault either lies on me (how??) or the property's common line. She is not willing to share this report of course.

I have a $1000 deductible on my policy which I have paid since subrogation has been unsuccessful. On top of that my insurance premium doubled with this claim on file. I am clearly not at fault but proving negligence is incredibly difficult. What more can I do at this point? I have yet to speak with HOA management at length about any of this but I'm not sure how fruitful that will be. Should I bother asking them to cover my deductible and premium increase? Do I have any legal recourse given there's a possible conflict of interest with the "Property Manager" apparently speaking on behalf of the HOA or is that just on me for being careless?
earlyout
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by earlyout »

Where do you live? The laws governing this type of damage vary from state to state. I own a condo in Georgia and have had similar flooding incidents 3 times in the last 8 years. Since it was impossible to prove negligence on the part of the HOA or of the owners of the condos above me where the water originated, my insurance had to cover the damage. Legally it was the same as if the damage resulted from a heavy rain through an open window.

It is just my opinion but I think my insurance company preferred to just pay for the damage rather the legal cost of trying to subrogate the claim.
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whodidntante
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by whodidntante »

I don't know if I'm right, but I would have pushed back on my insurance company who wants me to negotiate with an insurance company that I do not have a policy with. I bought a policy from Bill McNeal's Great Value Insurance and for a covered event that's who I expect to make me whole. Now, if they end up suing or begging money from another insurance company, that's great for them. But I do not care.
Dottie57
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by Dottie57 »

The owner of the unit above you is responsible. The insurance company is wrong to try to get money from the HOA. GET THE INSURANCE info from the owner as the owner should have insurance.
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by Dottie57 »

whodidntante wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:12 pm I don't know if I'm right, but I would have pushed back on my insurance company who wants me to negotiate with an insurance company that I do not have a policy with. I bought a policy from Bill McNeal's Great Value Insurance and for a covered event that's who I expect to make me whole. Now, if they end up suing or begging money from another insurance company, that's great for them. But I do not care.
Agree.
retire2022
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by retire2022 »

Bob

You need to have your insurance contact the condo owner insurance company above you.

If your condo owner does not have insurance you should discuss with your attorney legal action.

Best
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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by JAZZISCOOL »

I'm sorry this happened to you. :shock:

I owned a condo a long time ago where the owner of one of the units above me left town and turned off the heat in the winter so the pipes froze (then burst), affecting many units including mine. It was a quasi disaster because my unit was under contract and almost did not close. Luckily, I had minimal dry wall damage compared to some of the other units that had serious damage as well as personal property damage.

As I recall, I did not have to file anything with my insurance carrier and the HOA's master policy covered all of the damage so there was no subrogation issue.

In my state, from what I recall, when you "own" a condo you essentially just own the air space and not the ground underneath you (and not the walls, etc. either) so the insurance policies are different vs. a single family home. The insurance I had with the condo only covered damage to my personal belongings as I recall (and nothing was damaged in this case). This may differ from state to state. This is one reason the condo HOA's master policy covered the damage in my case from what I remember. I'm sure there are many legal nuances which I don't remember so YMMV.

It seems that your HOA has not been very helpful in this situation. Perhaps you can find a reasonable real estate attorney to consult with or consider looking into small claims court. However, if you don't have reasonable proof of fault, I'm not sure this would be worth the "brain damage".

It also seems unreasonable your premiums doubled. You could always shop around but I think there is a database that tracks claims, if I remember correctly.
Last edited by JAZZISCOOL on Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
BuddyJet
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by BuddyJet »

I just went through this in Georgia from a washing machine upstairs.

The upstairs owner's insurance covered it. In my case was only a $3k claim.
People say nothing is impossible. I do nothing all day.
Topic Author
Bob_Sacamano
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by Bob_Sacamano »

I plan on raising some [ruckus] with the HOA to see what they are willing to do. Perhaps if I twist their arm a bit they will at least concede on the deductible. There have been several cases of burst pipes on the property, I am not the first to deal with this.

What will contacting the other condo owner's insurance provider accomplish realistically? They will deny negligence and put it on me even though it's obvious to everyone that water flows down not up.

The claim is for roughly $30k, hence the significant premium increase.

[Edit by moderator oldcomputerguy]
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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by JAZZISCOOL »

Bob_Sacamano wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:12 pm I plan on raising some [ruckus] with the HOA to see what they are willing to do. Perhaps if I twist their arm a bit they will at least concede on the deductible. There have been several cases of burst pipes on the property, I am not the first to deal with this.

What will contacting the other condo owner's insurance provider accomplish realistically? They will deny negligence and put it on me even though it's obvious to everyone that water flows down not up.
I think this is a good idea to try to make the condo HOA accountable. It may make sense to put something in writing to the condo HOA manager and board of directors for your records. I have had 2 different HOA's and they both have a board of directors. This may be another avenue for you (speak to the BOD members).

Has anyone read the condo HOA insurance policy to see what it actually says about events like this? If you ever decided to see an attorney, they would probably want to see documents like this. If you pay HOA dues, you are entitled to see a copy of the insurance policy (I would assume).
fru-gal
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by fru-gal »

Bob_Sacamano wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:12 pm What will contacting the other condo owner's insurance provider accomplish realistically? They will deny negligence and put it on me even though it's obvious to everyone that water flows down not up.
Your insurance company should be dealing with the other insurance company. That's what you have insurance for.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by Mr. Rumples »

deleted by mr. rumples
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:01 pm, edited 10 times in total.
adam1712
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by adam1712 »

Bob_Sacamano wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:12 pm I plan on raising some [ruckus] with the HOA to see what they are willing to do. Perhaps if I twist their arm a bit they will at least concede on the deductible. There have been several cases of burst pipes on the property, I am not the first to deal with this.

What will contacting the other condo owner's insurance provider accomplish realistically? They will deny negligence and put it on me even though it's obvious to everyone that water flows down not up.

The claim is for roughly $30k, hence the significant premium increase.
Before raising [a ruckus], I'd get as much information about your HOA's insurance policy and who the provider is. You really need to get a better idea of what the condo laws are in your state and what is expected for HOA insurance liability and unit owner insurance liability. I'd be very surprised if an HOA board did something outside of insurance but I guess you never know.

[Edit by moderator oldcomputerguy]
racinglasers
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by racinglasers »

Was on the HOA board of a 30 story condo in Atlanta ...... this happens all the time ..... your HOA insurance probably has a large water damage deductible of $25k or more ..... bottom line without negligence above your insurance is who you will have to go to.
boglerdude
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Re: Water damage incident is giving me heartburn - please help

Post by boglerdude »

How is this different than negligence in a car accident?
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