V.B. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
What are the laws concerning insurance? We currently have an issue where a leaky pipe from one condo caused damage in another unit. Is the unit owner responsible or the association? What makes that determination? Thank you!
Mister Condo replies:
V.B, back in 2010, the Connecticut legislature passed an update to the Common Interest Ownership Act (more commonly referred to as CIOA, pronounced like Iowa, with a “K” at the beginning). There were many updates to insurance regulations included as part of the law revision. Liability for interior condo damage was certainly affected. Claims that were simply handled by association insurance in the past came under closer scrutiny and associations were forced to either adopt maintenance standards for items that routinely wear and break such as water supply lines, water heaters, toilet supply lines, and such. If the association didn’t mandate and adhere to strict maintenance standards for these wear items, the insurer could reject the claim. That’s where your situation comes in.
If your association listed the item that broke as a routine wear item and no corrective action was taken by the unit owner, the unit owner may be on the hook for the damage or able to make a claim on his personal homeowner’s insurance policy (HO-6, here in Connecticut). If the item was not listed as a required maintenance item, the association’s policy may cover some of the damage but not necessarily as the insurer could still question how the leaky pipe began to leak. Was it damaged by the unit owner? Had it previously leaked but wasn’t properly repaired? Did the unit owner modify the plumbing without using a licensed contractor? The battle could go on and on.
Cases like this routinely require the intervention of the association’s insurer and/or attorney. Ideally, the unit owners involved in the water intrusion damage can each file claims against their own HO-6 policies. They may be out deductibles but that is just the nature of insurance. If they seek relief against the association, it is time to get the attorney involved.