CONDOMINIUM OMBUDSMANíS STATEMENT REGARDING FLOOD INSURANCE

Office of the Florida Condominium Ombudsman

By Dr. Virgil Rizzo
Posted October 12, 2005

 

Advertising campaigns by private industry across Florida advises that many real property owners are unnecessarily paying for flood insurance coverage and offers to help determine if the realty is actually situate in a flood insurance zone necessitating coverage. The service is offered for a one-time fee of one yearís current flood insurance premium payable only if the property has been reclassified as not requiring flood insurance. Under such a plan associations are encouraged to drop their flood insurance coverage. The decision to enter into this type of agreement is being made by the associationís board of directors without the consideration or approval from unit owners.

 

            Florida Statute Section 718.111(11) regarding insurance requirements for condominiums in Florida requires a condominium association to maintain adequate insurance to protect the associationís common elements. [The common elements are as described in part (b) of that statute section].

718.111(11)(a)  A unit-owner controlled association shall use its best efforts to obtain and maintain adequate insurance to protect the association, the association property, the common elements, and the condominium property required to be insured by the association pursuant to paragraph (b).

                       The same statute section, as it currently exists with respect to flood insurance

           coverage for common elements of the condominium association, renders this a

           permissive rather than mandatory matter.

 

           An association may also obtain and maintain liability insurance for directors and officers, insurance for the benefit of association employees, and flood insurance for common elements, association property, and units.

            These two statute sections are apparently in conflict as to whether adequate insurance is required to protect the common elements by the association.

            Failure of a condominium association to carry flood insurance coverage for the common elements presents a real and foreseeable danger with potentially serious economic impact for unit owners.

The Ombudsman has received complaints alleging that some condominium associations boards are electing to drop flood insurance coverage following a determination that the property is not located within a flood zone where mandatory insurance is required by federal law.  While this may be an effective cost saving measure in the short run, it may not be a wise and prudent decision for the condominium unit owners.

Since a unit ownerís interest in the common elements represents only a fractional share of the whole one alone may not be able to obtain adequate or sufficient individual flood insurance coverage to compensate for a flooding event affecting the common elements. Under such a scenario, all unit owners would be subject to a special assessment of their proportionate share by the association to cover the costs to repair, replace, or rebuild the damaged common elements. A condominium associationís board of directors should not be able to avoid adequate insurance coverage for the common elements and subject its members to such a burden instead of prudently investing their funds in a policy for flood protection for the benefit of all concerned.

I urge all concerned to carefully review this issue and to take appropriate and timely action to prevent unnecessary losses and burdens for the citizens of the State of Florida. The Florida Legislature should be proactive in recognizing the potential danger that exists and take action to prevent catastrophic losses to Floridaís condominium unit owners in the event of a major flooding event. 


To contact the ombudsman, e-mail: [email protected], phone (850) 922-7671, or fax (850) 921-5446 or call the Ft. Lauderdale office at Tel.: (954) 202-3234

CONDO ARTICLES HOME NEWS PAGE