SOURCE: Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum

October 29, 2009 17:54 ET

Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum Reminds Community Associations and Homeowners of Deadline for Re-Opening or Filing New Claims From Hurricane Wilma

October 24th Marked 4-Year Anniversary of Storm -- One Year Left to File Claims

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL and NAPLES, FL and ORLANDO, FL--(Marketwire - October 29, 2009) - October 24th marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Wilma and Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum, a statewide law firm that focuses on the representation of condominium and homeowner associations (HOAs), is advising all associations and homeowners that they only have one year left to re-open or file a new claim for damage resulting from Hurricane Wilma.

"Many associations do not readily see the connection between storm damage and their current economic woes, but that connection may be closer than they think," said Donna Berger, a Managing Partner of Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum.

Typically, the deadline is five years to make a claim with an association's insurance carrier after a casualty loss, unless the claim was cut short by a FIGA deadline, an appraisal award or a signed release agreement that specifically used the word "release." The deadline to file insurance claims for Wilma is October 24, 2010, and more information can be found at

There are several reasons why associations might not have received the proper insurance proceeds for this storm damage. Many submitted claims and were told that they did not reach the deductible, or they received money but not enough to pay for repairs. Others never made claims because they either felt they did not meet the deductible, the damage was not discovered at the time, or they feared having coverage canceled or rates raised.

Common myths about filing or re-opening previous claims, include:

1. If you file a claim you will be dropped. This is false. It is illegal under Florida law for insurance companies to drop policyholders for filing claims. Specifically, Section 627.4133(3) provides: Claims on property insurance policies that are a result of an act of God may not be used as a cause for cancellation or nonrenewal.

2. If you file a claim your insurance rates will go up. Again, this is the same issue as #1. Insurance companies must submit rate increases to the State for approval. Whether or not the association makes a claim will not impact the carrier's business decision to move forward with a proposed rate increase.

3. Your damage did not come close to exceeding your deductible. This is a common scenario in which many policyholders give up and pay for insured damage out of their own pockets. Damage visible to the naked eye may not tell the whole story of damage which your personal and real property may have suffered. Trained experts can properly advise associations on the full extent of the damage inflicted including structural damage, mold, loss of power, relocation expenses, cleanup and dumpster costs, etc. If the community endured a special assessment to pay for storm damage it may have been on the receiving end of the deductible denial; and

4. If you already received a check from your insurance company it is too late to revisit your claim. Unless you signed a release, receiving funds alone does not prevent one from pursuing the carrier for the full extent of damage suffered.

"Unfortunately, because most owners and/or association board members lack the experience and expertise to deal with these situations, many simply do not know their rights with regard to casualty claims or are bullied into accepting less than they deserve," Berger said.

Boards, particularly new ones that were not seated at the time any damage was incurred, would be well advised to have their property inspected as soon as possible in order to provide themselves with the reassurance that they were paid in full by their carrier or to arm themselves with the ammunition needed to recover the amounts that still might be owed.

Donna D. Berger, Esq. is the Managing Partner of the Ft. Lauderdale Office of Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum (KGR) a firm that specializes in community association representation and casualty law. Ms. Berger can be reached at 954-315-0372 or via email at

About Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum:

Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum is a statewide law firm that focuses on the representation of community associations. The Firm presently maintains offices in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Naples and West Palm Beach. The firm offers residents living in all types of common interest ownership communities with a complete set of services including general corporate representation, collection, first party insurance claim recovery and construction defect litigation. It was one of the first firms to advance all fees and costs on behalf of communities that are forced to pursue collection of delinquent assessments. For more information, log on to

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Donna Berger
    (954) 486-7774 for Fort Lauderdale and Naples

    Alan Garfinkel
    (407) 539-3900 for Orlando