Thursday, August 24, 2006

Increases in Condominium Insurance

As the financial affects of the previous 2 hurricane seasons are felt by insurance companies, these are now being passed onto the consumer. Recently, condominium maintenance fees are increasing significantly, due to higher insurance premiums for liability coverage (building replacement, etc. - similar to homeowners insurance).

Another reason for the increases is the increase in building supply replacement costs, as well as, property value increases.

These represent a double edged sword for the significant increase in premiums.

In one case the condominium association which consists of 5 buildings with 8 units or a total of 40 units the budget called for an annual insurance premium of $23,000 for one year. This equates to about $575 per unit annually. The current year's renewal had a premium of $48,000, or about $1,200 per unit. Or, an increase of $625 per year.

The condominium units are generally 2 bedroom, 2 bath units which in January 2005 were selling for in the $160's and $170's. In today's real estate market the estimated values are in the $210,000 to $225,000 range. This equates to about a 32% increase in estimated value. This could explain part of the increase or about $184 or the $625. The remaining portion could be attributable to risk assigned and losses incurred by the insurance industry.

When purchasing a newly constructed condominium, where the developer is still in control, there maybe some relief found by the new purchasers. A careful review of the Declaration of Condominium may reveal a clause entitled "Statutory Assessment Guarantee; Liability of Developer for Common Expenses." Within this clause, it specifically states the developer's guarantees for common expenses on a per unit basis(insurance coverage is a common expense) for a period of three years from the date of recording the Declaration of Condominium or the "turnover date" (a majority of the condominium directors are elected by the unit owners), which ever is the earlier date. The guarantee is not based on a line item basis of the budgetted expenses, but by total common fees. A condominium buyer should check the "Statutory Assessment Guarantee; Liability of Developer for Common Expenses." to determine if any increase of the common maintenance fees falls within the guarantees stated.

Buyers of condominiums, often ask, "Will the maintenance fee increase significantly after they purchase?" The "Statutory Assessment Guarantee; Liability of Developer for Common Expenses." may give a prospective buyer an indication of what future maintenance fees could be, if the condominium association directors (elected by the unit owners), continues to maintain the property in the same manner as the developer. Note - the condominium association directors need to be conservative in their goals and objectives for common maintenance.

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