J.P. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I recently had a pipe freeze and then burst in my kitchen ceiling (no one lives above me). Heat was on, etc., but it was during the “polar vortex” – really cold! It caused damage to the ceiling and surrounding area. My question appears to be the opposite of most. I believe I am responsible, but I have purchased homeowners insurance for the interior of the unit and have appropriate coverage (for frozen pipes -their example in the coverage). My insurance company is denying the claim saying that the association is responsible (which makes no sense to me) and citing article 47-255 of CT law.
Does this make any sense to you and can my association really be responsible? It took several calls back to my insurance to have them finally agree that if it says it in the by-laws then it might be covered (my bylaws state I am responsible to repair and rebuild the interior of my dwelling in the event of a casualty).
Mister Condo replies:
J.P., when it comes to condo insurance claims and denials, nothing surprises me anymore. Here is a clear case of you having the proper coverage (HO-6 here in Connecticut) and the insurance company who gladly takes your premium every year is citing a law that allows some wiggle room for them to deny your claim. For the most part, damage to the interior of your unit is your responsibility and your insurer should make good on its policy and honor your claim. However, before they honor your claim they will make sure that your association doesn’t have a policy in place to cover the damage. Your association will not want to put a claim in against their master policy, especially if it is likely to be denied, because the more claims they put in the higher their premiums will be. Unfortunately, this practice is all too common amongst the insurers offering HO-6 insurance.
Honestly, I would waste no time on this other than to bring a small claim against the insurer. If the dollar amount in question is too large for small claims, I would hire an attorney and sue for the full amount plus legal expenses. I’d also shop around for a new insurer and let the state’s insurance commission know about this poor practice at http://www.ct.gov/cid/cwp/view.asp?q=254352. Insurers that have no problem accepting your premium but big problems when it’s time to pay a claim need to be held accountable. Good luck!