What Is the Attorney’s Role When Disaster Strikes?

When a natural disaster strikes, an attorney can play a key role in protecting the interests of a community association when filing claims with the insurance carrier. As part of that process, the association’s counsel should retain a public adjuster or loss consultant whose experience and knowledge includes both insurance and construction.

That was the key message in my recent presentation at CAI’s Community Association Law Seminar, held recently in San Francisco. Organized by the College of Community Association Lawyers, the four-day seminar was designed to advance the knowledge and practice of community association law.

On January 30, Daniel Odess, President of GlobalPro Recovery, Inc., took part in a presentation with Miami attorney Michael Hyman, partner at Siegfried, Rivera, Hyman, Lerner, De La Torre, Mars & Sobel, PA., on “The Attorney Role when Disaster Strikes.”

Their presentation covered hot topics, such as common concerns when filing a claim, the differences between replacement cost value (RCV) and actual cost value (ACV). They discussed the reasons for engaging an attorney, rather than going it alone, as well as the roles of a public adjuster, appraiser and loss consultant.

To help attendees better understand the claims process, they presented an in-depth game plan for the community association attorney from the counseling through litigation. They discussed the various issues that delay an insurance claim or reduce the size of the settlement, and explained how community association attorneys can add value by helping clients avoiding legal pitfalls.

“Counsel can help you navigate the policy terms and conditions, and interpret complex language contained in form letters routinely sent by carrier representatives in an attempt to reserve the carrier’s rights,” they said in the presentation. “If the insured retains an attorney at the onset of a loss, the attorney will retain either a loss or building consultant to separately determine the amount of the damages.”

Since 1993, the Community Associations Institute has recognized excellence in the practice of community association law through the College of Community Association Lawyers. Of the thousands of attorneys practicing community association law in the United States, fewer than 150 have been granted membership in the college. Their service is demonstrated by a commitment to educate and empower boards and residents of the more than 300,000 community associations across the country.

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