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Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Home Jointly Owned Buildings You have insurance but are you insured?

You have insurance but are you insured?

OVER the past few of months I’ve had received several emails from people complaining about problems they’re having getting insurance companies to pay for the damage to their property caused by the winter’s heavy rains.

Without exception, all the complaints and enquiries I get about insurance issues are sent by those living in apartments, houses and other building complexes that are registered as ‘Jointly-owned buildings’.

A typical complainant will write:

“The roof of my apartment block is leaking and the Management Committee refuses to help.

“They say as the damage is in my apartment it’s up to me to sort it out. My insurance company doesn’t want to know.”

A couple of emails later it transpires that the Management Committee had only insured the ‘jointly-owned property’ (communal areas insurance); i.e. every part of a building under joint ownership which has not been registered as a unit, where they should have insured the ‘jointly-owned building’ as required by the law:

“The Management Committee must insure and always keep insured the jointly-owned building against fire, lightning and earthquakes with a licensed underwriter for the sum which the Management Committee considers as corresponding to its replacement value.” (Refer to Article 38L of the Immovable Property Law.)

The ‘jointly-owned building’ refers to the whole complex and not just the ‘jointly-owned property’. Even some of the ‘professional’ property management companies and lawyers, who should know better, get this wrong!

This image shows a jointly-owned building outlined in red. It includes some properties that share a pool and a number of other properties with pools for their exclusive use. It also includes car parking areas, gardens, drainage, pavements, roads, etc, etc. Everything within the red boundary line is the jointly-owned building.

But then there’s a second problem. Management Committees tend to buy get the minimum insurance cover as required by law – fire, lightning and earthquakes.

This will not help the complainant whose apartment is being damaged by a leaking roof; he needs insurance cover for storm and flood!

Comprehensive insurance

Management Committees should get comprehensive insurance cover for the jointly-owned building to protect the owners’ investments. A comprehensive policy should include cover for:

  • Fire & Lightning
  • Earthquake
  • Impact
  • Malicious damage
  • Aircraft
  • Explosion
  • Removal of Debris
  • Professional Fees
  • Escape of water
  • Accidental damage
  • Storm & Flood
  • Theft
  • Glass
  • Alternative Accommodation
  • Trace and access
  • Keys & Locks
  • Firefighting Expenses
  • Public Liability for the committee
  • Public Liability for the owners
  • Personal Liability of the committee

(Trace and access is insurance that covers the costs of detecting and repairing the source of a water leak.)

However, a Management Committee wishing to obtain additional insurance cover must convene a General Meeting of owners and put the proposal to a vote; at least 50% of the owners must vote in favour. (Refer to Article 38L of the Immovable Property Law.)

Insurance agents

I spoke with the head 3D Global’s insurance department, Andrew Stott, who said:

“Unfortunately, I hear of insurance agents offering very poor advice just to line their own pockets and have read articles from so-called ‘experts’ that are totally incorrect. One company even recommends you purchase literature them that’s available on the internet for free!

“It’s essential that any company or individual offering you advice or selling you insurance is listed on the Register of Insurance Intermediaries.

“One insurance broker advised his client that the renewal of his house insurance was due and that the renewal premium was €700. The client thought this was rather high so he spoke with another broker. The broker obtained a quotation from the same insurance company and advised him that the correct premium was €650!

“Following a change in the law last year, insurance premiums must be paid directly to the insurance company. This change was made because a number of cases were reported where people had paid insurance premiums to agents who pocketed the money rather than forwarding it to the insurance companies, which left the people uninsured!”

Further reading

Everything you need to know about the insurance of jointly-owned buildings. By Miltiades Miltiadou – Independent Insurance and Risk Management Consultant.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Nigel, we have yet to speak to our community insurer but I wondered if you have a view on the following please. We are a small community.

    We have undercover parking for 25 cars. Included are 3 petrol motorcycles. Whilst each vehicle is parked in its allocated parking which is parking included for a unit on its title deed. What is likely to be the position if an uninsured vehicle caught fire and caused considerable damage. Should it be a requirement the management committee set that all vehicles on site must be insured so as to protect not only the common area’s but of course the possibility of a serious injury or worse case a consequential fatality.

    We take the view any uninsured vehicle, even on a units private parking that is not insured. The community insurance is likely to be invalidated and would not pay out. It is highly unlikely a unit domestic insurance would cover a vehicle in its private parking and would not cover damaged to communal space.

    Any private option welcome.

    Thanks

    Ed: Although you may be able to change the standard Regulations to include a clause stating that any vehicles parked must be insured, enforcing this will prove difficult.

    The Management Committee will need to check insurance certificates. And what would it do if they discovered an uninsured vehicle and its owner refused to remove it? Would they have it towed away?

    And the Committee would also need to check the insurance of visitors using the car park.

    You’ll need to check this with your insurer, but I think it would be simpler to include public liability for the owners in your Communal Building insurance. (But you’d still have a problem with guests parking uninsured vehicles.)

    By domestic insurance, I assume you mean contents insurance taken out by the unit owners? They will need to check their insurance policy to see what is covered.

  2. I am in the process of obtaining insurance for a jointly owned building. I understand that there are two options.

    1 A comprehensive insurance covering the entire complex including the individual apartments an all risks policy.

    2 A Policy covering only the communal areas such as pool stairwells etc. It is for the Apartment owners to have an all risks policy for their own apartment. I have a top floor apartment and my apartment insurance would cover a leaky roof above it.

    My understanding is that most Complexes Management Committees adopt Option 2 which is within the law.

    One thing to look out for is to ensure that you don’t get covered twice because in that case you might not get anything for a claim!

    Thanks for all your info which I have been following for many years.

    Ed: Thanks for your comments Keith, but I suggest you read article 38L of the law and page 10 of the document Everything you would like to know about the Insurance of Jointly-Owned Buildings.

    There is no provision in the law permitting Management Committees to only insure the jointly-owned property.

  3. The best one yet ***** the insurance was specific to cover water ingress ie Rain Sorry that’s accidental and we don’t cover accidental damage to holiday homes FFS the policy is called HOLIDAY home insurance keep away from *****.

    Ed: It’s essential that people check their insurance policy thoroughly to see what and what is not covered. I recently went to Malta with two colleagues and purchased travel insurance. The policy document explained in clear, straightforward and unambiguous detail what was insured, what was not insured and the amount of cover.

Comments are closed.

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