The condominium insurance industry certainly has faced its challenges in recent years. Multiunit residential and commercial structures, by their nature, are susceptible to many risks that can result in significant damages. When an insurable loss happens it often leads to many challenges with communication, continuity of claims handling and cost control. You may not be aware that you can arrange for an independent adjuster to be your control adjuster for all claims that may arise at your properties with no additional cost; as the insurers pay the expense. Control adjusters are provincially-licensed independent adjusters in Alberta.
Many condominium management companies, and their insurance brokers, are turning towards a control adjuster to effectively manage these challenges and work closely with all interested parties. A control adjuster can also assist in a consulting capacity to help with uninsured losses, recovery of deductibles or general insurance/claims questions.
Experience and communication are key. When considering a control adjuster you want to ensure they have experience handling claims for condominium corporations and their insurers. Experience handling unit owner claims is also important. There are many overlapping concerns for condo corporations and unit owners alike. A good adjuster is constantly communicating with your condominium manager, condo board, unit owners, tenants and their respective adjusters, various contractors and experts who assist with assessing damages and repairs. Control adjusters are also in communication with the various insurers involved to ensure there are no coverage issues and all payments are made in a timely fashion. Having the same control adjuster each and every time there is a claim is extremely valuable. Too often insurers will assign an adjuster who has limited experience, no interest in client relationships and no reasonable expectations to meet certain deadlines and address problems promptly when they arise. They often have too many claims and they will not make your claim a priority. That is why many condo boards and managers are moving towards control adjuster arrangements. This way you deal directly with the same adjuster every time.
Your control adjuster program should be structured to work closely with the condominium managers, or in the case of a self-managed building, works closely with board members, and their respective insurance brokers and insurers. A competent adjuster will have a comprehensive system that manages the challenges faced when damages occur to a building.
A brief summary of the key areas a control adjuster can assist your condominium with are listed below:
- Phone calls, email, communicate with all parties and contractors on mitigating damages.
- Site attendance in a timely manner to mitigate damages and ultimately minimize the cost of
- Interview witnesses, unit owners, tenants and in most cases obtain detailed statements.
- Determine the ultimate cause of the loss and confirm if any liability against any third party.
- Gather important information like unit owner/tenant insurance policy information for future subrogation/re–covery efforts.
- Hire experts if the need arises such as engineers, mold and asbestos hygienists, etc.
EVALUATION AND NEGOTIATION
- Create emergency and repair scopes.
- Obtain multiple contractor bids if
- Meet with contractors on site to review scope and repair timelines.
- Set expectations for unit owners and tenants on the repair process and timeline.
- Resolve conflicts about the scope of repairs if there is disagreement.
- Review and settle potential disputes with contractors regarding deficiency
- Confirm with insurers on repair scope/cost and arrange for payment/ settlement.
- Assist/negotiate settlements for owners with unit improvements/up–grades that may not be covered by the condominium corporation policy, to pay their upgrade repairs and communicate with their adjusters.
- Common Law and Statute Law and how they apply to condo property damage scenarios.
- Condo bylaws and Condominium Act of Alberta and communicating this to all parties.
- Burden of Proof established through thorough investigation.
- Limitation period (2 years in Alberta).
As you can see, there are various components of handling a claim. They can be complex and very time consuming. A control adjuster provides these services so that you have the same adjuster for each and every loss. You get to know your adjuster, rely on him/her to provide the same quality of service each and every time. Consistency is paramount on communication with all interested parties in order to provide continuity in claims handling. The expectations and processes are in place in order to minimize your workload and added stress when damages occur. Each building and each condo manager and/or board has different challenges. We can create a plan of action that works for you. Having a good adjuster will reduce the cost of claims and hopefully result in keeping premiums lower in the long run.
Contact your insurance brokers and/ or local independent adjuster offices to see how they can assist you with your future claims.
Cory Gilliam, BA, CIP is a Partner and Claims Adjuster for T&L Adjusters Ltd., a full service, independent, adjusting firm serving all of Alberta.