After Surfside, Heightened Focus on Condo Association Insurance

Condo Building

In a perfect world, condominium associations would hire a structural engineer to inspect their property every couple of years. The engineer would inform the association of any compromises to the building’s structural integrity or electrical system, and the association’s board of directors would authorize repairs in timely fashion, simultaneously managing risk and controlling costs —including the cost of condo association insurance.

In such a world, few outside of Greater Miami would ever have heard of Champlain Towers South, the 12-story condo building in Surfside, FL, that collapsed on June 24 of this year, killing 98 people.

Had the board of the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association adhered to an inspection schedule and followed inspectors’ advice, it’s likely the building would still be standing and those 98 victims would still be alive. The 2018 engineering report the board did commission — which warned of a “major error in the development of the original contract documents” prepared by the architectural firm that designed the 1981 building — would have been issued many years earlier, when necessary repairs would have been less extensive and far less costly. The repairs would have been completed shortly thereafter, and regular inspections and maintenance would have averted disaster.

But of course the world we live in is far from perfect.

July 10 report in USA Today details years of wrangling between the Champlain Towers South board, who had pushed for an assessment to pay for repairs, and the owners of the building’s condos, who had balked at the price. An April 9, 2021 letter from the board president to the condo owners reads in part, “A lot of work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now.”

Six weeks after the date of the letter, one wing of the building came down in a deadly collapse. Within two weeks of the tragedy, victims’ families filed at least six lawsuits accusing the condo association of negligence. The insurance coverage the association had in place won’t come close to covering the damages.

In a July 1 emergency meeting with Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, attorneys for the association said they were aware of a $30 million Property Insurance policy, as well as $18 million in Liability Insurance coverage. Based on a recording of the meeting posted by the Miami Herald, Claims Journal reports the judge as saying: “It looks like for the property damage claims and for the injury and death claims there’s going to be a total of $48 million, which will obviously be inadequate to compensate everyone fully for the extent of their losses. I don’t know whether there are any third-party claims. Maybe there are, maybe there aren’t. But we are dealing certainly with a limited pot as far as insurers go.”

Indeed. Losses from the Surfside condo collapse are estimated to total about $1 billion.

Condo Association Responsibilities and Coverage 

Composed of individual unit owners, condo associations are responsible for the management of the property where the condominiums are located. Most elect a board of directors — typically including three to seven members — to make decisions regarding expenses, routine maintenance, repairs and Property and Casualty Insurance, including Liability Insurance. The board operates under a set of association bylaws and a declaration that establishes which elements of a complex are to be covered under the association’s master policy and which features are the responsibility of individual unit owners. The master policy typically covers shared risks – i.e., the building (or buildings) itself and common areas, such as a pool, grounds and parking lot. In some instances, it also covers standard fixtures that originally came with the unit, such as cabinets and sinks. Typically, board decisions regarding major expenses are voted on by a quorum of the entire association. Continue reading

Virtual Employee Wellbeing Fair

Alera Virtual Wellbeing Fair - 9/22 and 9/23

NEW WEBINAR Wednesday – Thursday, September 22 & 23

Join us on Wednesday and Thursday, September 22 & 23 for Alera’s annual wellbeing fair. The virtual event is designed to help employees and their employers learn more about holistic health by attending various workshop sessions that specifically focus on the six pillars of wellbeing: financial, physical, mental/emotional, social, community and career.

During this two-day workshop, employees can engage in daily fitness and mindfulness workshops and then attend keynotes to hear from experts in the wellbeing space.

Keynote topics will include:

⋅ Loss, Languishing, & Renewal: Defining the Effects of the Pandemic on Our Mental Wellness
⋅ Financial Management: Strategies to Achieve Wealth Wellness
⋅ Eat What You Love: Precision Nutrition for Diabetes & Pre-diabetes Care
⋅ Mental Health in the Workplace: Panel Discussion
⋅ Healthy Cooking During Busy Times (Cooking Class)
⋅ Mastering Stress and Improving Resilience During Times of Adversity
⋅ 3 Steps to Support for Family Caregivers
⋅ How to Start Your Garden Right: Grow & Eat the Healthiest Food Possible–Year Round!
⋅ Perfectionists to “Superheroes” – Learning to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Where to Register: Click here to register and learn more about each session.

Cargo Insurance: The Shipper vs. Carrier Decision

Train Cargo

If you’re a manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler or retailer whose business involves the shipment of goods, your principal decision regarding Cargo Insurance shouldn’t be whether to purchase the coverage, but from whom — the shipper or an insurance carrier?

Protecting yourself with Cargo Insurance — also known as Goods in Transit Insurance — is always the right decision. Whether by land, sea or air, shipping is full of risk, with perils including theft, fire and more. All freight carriers are legally required to carry a minimum amount of Liability Insurance, but the coverage Liability Insurance provides is insufficient to fully protect you in the event of theft or cargo damage or loss resulting from natural disaster or accident. So, Cargo Insurance is a must.

Whether to obtain it through the shipper or an insurance company comes down to which option is more cost-efficient. Continue reading

CostWatch Newsletter For Third Quarter 2021

CostWatch Newsletter

The CostWatch provides areas of cost savings specifically related to business insurance. In this issue, we examine how your experience modifier rating is calculated and it’s impact on your WC costs. You’ll also learn why you should have your experience mod regularly audited.

Click here to read the latest issue!

Interested in putting AuditRate to work for you? Contact John Przybylski to learn more, JPrzybylski@AuditRate.com.

OSHA Launches Program to Protect High-risk Workers From COVID-19

OSHA NEP Program Video

On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing its enforcement efforts on companies with the largest number of worker at serious risk of contracting COVID-19. The program includes an increase in COVID-related hazard assessments and unannounced OSHA visits within industries who have reported high exposure, fatalities or complaints related to the virus.

The video explains further. And, you can download this compliance bulletin which discusses the approach OSHA is taking against COVID-19 through the NEP.

CostWatch Newsletter For First Quarter 2021

CostWatch Newsletter

The CostWatch provides areas of cost savings specifically related to business insurance. In this issue, we look at the three questions that provide a good indication to our AuditRate Team if your WC or GL premiums have errors. We also review the new corporate officer earnings cap numbers for 2021 and see a real life example of  just how important it is that your employees are classified correctly on your audit.

Click here to read the latest issue!

Interested in putting AuditRate to work for you? Contact John Przybylski to learn more, JPrzybylski@AuditRate.com.

How the Biden Administration May Impact Your Workplace

Market Blueprint

As with any change in administration, the shift from Trump to Biden brings vastly different philosophies, policies and implications for employers. Now backed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, the Biden administration potentially has a clearer path to legislative wins, which could significantly impact U.S. employees and employers alike.

Legislative shifts often require employers to adapt or risk penalties. Anticipated changes may mean, for example, redrafting internal policies, re-categorizing workers, and rewriting employee handbooks. Essentially, the more prepared your organization is, the easier it will be for you to thrive in this new environment.

Here is a snapshot of the hot-button issues likely to receive early attention from the new Biden administration, and some suggested actions you may take now to prepare your organization accordingly. Continue reading

Celebrating Five Years As A Best Practices Agency!

Best Practices Agency 2020For the 5th year in a row, Alper Services has been named a Best Practices Agency! We celebrate this honor based on our outstanding customer retention, growth, stability and financial management prior to becoming part of the Alera Group in August of 2020.

The award is bestowed on an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the U.S. participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) “Best Practices” Study Group. To be considered, an IIABA affiliated state association or an insurance company must first nominate an agency.

“Winning the Best Practices Agency status for the fifth year in a row is a great achievement to conclude our status as an independent agency. Our Team celebrates the win and now looks to the next chapter and new opportunities we have gained through our joining the Alera Group and partnering with GCG Financial.” says Leslie Morse, Alper’s EVP & Managing Partner.

The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual study of leading independent insurance agencies, which is conducted for IIABA by Reagan Consulting, documents the business practices of these high performance agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.