Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine.
There’s a collision in your co-op’s parking lot that may have resulted in personal injury to one of the drivers. What should the board do? Immediately inform the property manager about the accident, direct her to notify your insurance carrier in writing, and insist on written confirmation that she has done so.
Why the rush? Because case law or your liability insurance policy itself may require the insured co-op or condo board to give notice “as soon as practicable” of a potential claim, says attorney Victor M. Metsch, of counsel at the law firm Smith, Gambrell & Russell. Failure to do so might give the insurance carrier the right to deny a future claim.
Prompt reporting of the accident gives the insurance carrier an opportunity to investigate before time passes. A delay can make it more difficult to reconstruct the facts of the accident or identify witnesses. If the board does not notify the insurer promptly, the insurer may claim the insured board forfeited coverage.
Some policies specify how quickly the insurer is to be notified, while others require that notice is given “as soon as practicable.” Either way, don’t delay. Make sure the insurance carrier is notified in writing immediately after an incident takes place, and make sure the carrier has acknowledged receipt of the notification. Prompt action could save big money if the incident leads to litigation.
“Our recommendation is to put your carrier on notice,” says Stephannie Ciantro, property claims manager for the insurance brokerage Mackoul Risk Solutions. “It’s in the carrier’s interest – and it’s their right – to get there as soon as possible to investigate. That’s true of property loss or personal injury.”