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Hoa Managers Report On Sinkholes

By Author: Kevin McNulty
Total Articles: 2

In addition to the normal problems a property manager deals with, sinkholes have become an increasing burden on an already full plate. Put a proactive game plan for dealing with a sinkhole project in place and you’ll be ready when you need it. This way you can let the association know what the additional costs will be in the event of a sinkhole. After all, there is a lot less emotion involved before you and your client are standing over a hole in the ground.

Following are some educational things you can do to prepare the association and owners.

Address your contractual obligations before a sinkhole is discovered on one of your properties and it is thrown in your lap.
Define Association insurance coverage to advise the homeowners what they will have to cover on their own.
Let everyone know that it is a multi-year process when dealing with engineers, insurance companies, contractors, and ultimately lawyers and judges.
Set a procedure for reporting building movement related problems, such as cracks in drywall, stucco, tile, etc.

There are some things you can do to prepare yourself and the COA/HOA to deal with a sinkhole. Some actions you can take to prepare are:

Review insurance policy with the board to determine if the current overage is adequate.
Develop a relationship with a reputable general contractor who specializes in Insurance restoration and has experience repairing sinkhole damaged buildings. This general contractor should also be your resource for trade contractors, such as painters, plumbers, electricians, etc., unless you already have relationships with some. You should develop a relationship with such a contractor for other emergencies such as floods, fires, mold, etc. This may be the most important and helpful thing you do to help make this process easier. You and your owners will have to deal with the contractor for the duration of the project so you may as well find someone you like and can work with before you need them. Once you make the claim, you are likely to inherit whomever the carrier brings in to do the estimating if you don’t already have a preferred contractor.
Develop a relationship with a reputable foundation repair contractor, who will handle the underground work.
Locate relevant documents, such as surveys, blueprints, building specifications, etc.
Make a list of the building components that have warranties, such as paint and roofing. You will want to make sure prospective sinkhole repairs don’t void warranties.

The handling of engineers and testing will typically be prompted by your insurance carrier, so it is not something you should have to arrange, except for the inspections.

The main point we’re hoping to make is is that if you develop a plan before a sinkhole claim occurs, you will have the opportunity to set your customers’ expectations and have some control. If you do not set these expectations, someone else will and you may find yourself responding to random and pointless expectations that came from who knows where. However, in order to set expectations, you must develop a plan. This little bit of additional work will save you a lot of work down the road, and make you look like a hero when your clients tell their friends in other associations how you navigated them through the sinkhole process and met all their expectations (which you set in the first place).

Riskmeter’s Top 10 Sinkhole-Prone Counties in Florida lists Pasco as #1, Hillsborough #3 and Pinellas #5. Please see the article at http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2011/03/30/192278.htm#.UTXTIx6ZQ48.gmail

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