In about five minutes, you are going to think to yourself, “I feel like I’ve heard this from him before.” Allow me to save you the trouble, what I am going to say I have definitely said before. I’ve said it in articles, I’ve said it in presentations, according to my wife I’ve even said it in my sleep. Despite all of this, I’m going to say it again: insurance claims have a relatively short limitations period. Most courts hold that an insured has two years after discovering property damage to bring a lawsuit against the insurer. There is often some confusion about what this means. The two year limitations period is NOT the time within which you must make a claim. That is the time to bring a lawsuit. Those terms are often confused. A claim is when you notify your insurer of damage and/or request that your insurer pay for a loss under your policy. A lawsuit is when you file a complaint in court against your insurance company. You can make a claim within two years and still lose your claim if you haven’t brought a lawsuit within two years. Insurance claims can often be a slow process, which means even a timely discovered claim can push the limits of the two year period.
I have had to turn down otherwise valid claims because the Association or owner discovered the damage or problem more than two years before contacting me. I’ve also had courts dismiss a lawsuit based on the same timing issue. There are some good rules of thumb for Associations, owners, and managers. If you get notice of any sort of water intrusion, you hire a contractor or consultant to inspect your buildings, or receive a reserve study that mentions failing components or damage, your two year clock may have just begun. It is worth contacting an attorney familiar with insurance claims just to be safe. As part of my practice, I do not charge clients for the initial review of a potential claim. Other attorneys may offer the same. I never put an insurer on notice during my review process. There is really no downside in conducting due diligence to determine whether there is a potential claim. While the initial notice of a problem might be minor, it is common for these issues to develop into much bigger problems. Unfortunately, those bigger problems might not be discovered until after the two year limitation period.
I hate to see otherwise valid claims be lost based on timing issues. Because I keep seeing this issue pop up, unfortunately, you will have to continue to listen to me beat a dead horse.
In about five minutes, you are going to think to yourself, "I feel like I've heard this from him before." Allow me to save you the trouble, what I am going to say I have definitely said before. read more
Please join us in welcoming Lauren Olson! Lauren is an attorney based in our Seattle office and will primarily be assisting with general counsel related matters. read more
As summer ambles on and the pandemic lingers more homeowners are making changes to their homes than ever before. While this is often a good thing, it can turn ugly and litigious very quickly. No one likes to be told what they can and cannot do to their home! This is especially true if your association does not have proper rules and procedures in place to regulate homeowner changes. HOAs and Condos alike should have ARCs or ACCs (architectural review/control committees) set up to ensure that any work done is consistent with the community, does not reduce neighbors' home values, and does not jeopardize or impede any common areas/elements or limited common areas/elements. read more
Recently, there have been two major changes in Washington law that impact association collections. On July 13, 2021, the Washington Governor rescinded Proclamation 20-51 effective as of 11:59 p.m. on July 24, 2021. read more
People often focus on the negative ramifications associated with litigation. It can be costly, time consuming and often not the most efficient method of resolving disputes. Associations will sometime actively avoid dealing with an issue because it might result in litigation and often fail to consider the ramifications of not pursuing, or at least considering, litigation. For example, associations will sometimes avoid investigating the extent of a problem because they fear what they might find. An association may become aware of water intrusion and avoid investigating the extent of their problem, fearing it might lead to extensive repairs, insurance claims and perhaps litigation. Avoiding the issue will never make it go away. Associations do not avoid issues by ignoring them. The issues and resulting damage compound while the options for relief become more limited. Eventually, a potential insurance claim or litigation is barred by applicable statutes of limitation and repose. Increased damages and no ability to pursue relief is not a good combination. read more