Court of Appeals Upholds Material Matching Exclusion in Minnesota Policy

In an opinion issued today by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, it upheld an insurance company's exclusion against repairing a policyholder's hail-damaged property with reasonably matching materials in Pleasure Creek vs. American Family. The Court relied heavily on the recent decision from the Federal 8th Circuit in Noonan v. American Family that upheld a similar exclusion. In relevant part, the matching exclusion states that:

Fire-damaged homeowners face insurance troubles

People whose homes are damaged by fire may face a challenging time dealing with their insurance companies. The results of major wildfires, such as the Camp Fire, have changed the way that many insurers do business. Homeowners devastated by fires have faced massive losses, from their homes themselves to the landscapes that once surrounded them. After a claim, however, or a significant fire in the area, homeowners are likely to face substantially increased premiums. For people living near the Camp Fire, fire insurance costs have doubled in the year after the disaster.

Insurance companies have claimed that they were shocked by the results of major wildfires. The response has included massive rate hikes, and many homeowners in areas hit by fires say that their homes have become unaffordable as a result. Insurance rates can vary from address to address even in one community, so new buyers in an area may want to pay special attention to the costs of fire insurance when opting to purchase a home. In some states, public fire insurance plans may also be options, but these are often even more expensive than private plans.

Common homeowner association mistakes to avoid

There is more to a homeowner association than meets the eye. There's a lot going on behind the scenes, with these associations dealing with regular challenges and potential pitfalls that can cost them money and anger residents.

Knowledge of the most common homeowner association mistakes makes it easier to avoid trouble. Here are five mistakes that come up time after time:

  • Neglecting to follow governing documents: Every homeowner association has governing documents in place, so it's critical to follow the terms and conditions down to every last detail. For example, if the homeowner association violates the governing documents, residents may become upset.
  • Informal meetings: It sounds harmless, but informal homeowner association meetings can cause a major divide. Not only can it upset board members, but it can also do the same to residents. Every meeting has to be formally noticed.
  • Lack of communication: It's not always easy to keep an open line of communication with residents, but it's one of the most important responsibilities of a homeowner association.
  • Making bad hires: For instance, maybe you need to hire a contractor to assist with repairs. While it's important to consider all your options, hiring an insider, such as someone you or a board member knows, can result in a conflict of interest.
  • Acting before seeking legal advice: If a serious issue comes to light, such as a disagreement with a homeowner that has the potential to result in a lawsuit, it's best to take a step back and assess the situation before doing anything. This is often the best time to seek legal advice, as doing so will help prevent mistakes that could come back to haunt you.

Fire threats are leading to a loss of insurance coverage

In California, 167,000 homeowners were unable to get their insurance policies renewed in 2018, which was an increase of 6% throughout the state. Furthermore, there was a 10% increase in the number of policies that were not renewed in areas likely to be impacted by wildfires. Of those who had their coverage terminated, 88,000 lived in areas where there was no active fire threat. State law does provide several protections for homeowners who have had their insurance policies cancelled.

For instance, they must be told at least 45 days in advance that their policies are not going to be renewed. Starting in July 2020, they must be told 75 days in advance that their policies will not be renewed. Furthermore, individuals who cannot get coverage through a private insurance company may be able to purchase a FAIR policy. Finally, those who were covered by an insurance policy when a fire struck are entitled to have their policies renewed for at least a year.

What may homeowners associations regulate?

Running a successful homeowners' association is a difficult task. Each resident within a community has their preferences for how they decorate and maintain their home, and there always seems to be one or two owners who simply do not want to operate inside the HOA guidelines.

In many cases, some owners will find conflict wherever they go, regardless of how strict or relaxed an HOA keeps its guidelines. However, in other instances, the individuals operating the HOA make life much too difficult for owners in the community by maintaining unreasonably strict guidelines around house and property care.

What's the Right Insurance Policy for my Homeowners Association

Insurance is generally the largest budgeted expense for most homeowners associations (HOAs). But not every insurance policy is the same. So how do HOAs know whether the insurance policy they've purchased meets their needs? These are just some of the things HOAs need to be consider when they're deciding which insurance policy to purchase.

What is the Policy Deductible?

Every property insurance policy will have a deductible. But not every insurance policy has the same kind of deductible for every kind of claim. The two main kinds of deductibles HOAs regularly see are flat deductibles and percentage deductibles.

Home ownership grows for community associations

In the United States, community associations represent the fastest-growing form of home ownership. These organizations include townhome associations, condominium associations and cooperatives. According to a 2010 estimate from the Community Associations Institute, there were 62 million Americans living in community associations. That's about 25 million homes. There are law firms that serve the legal needs of these associations, including their boards of directors and property management companies.

It's the legal responsibility of community associations to protect the investments that their members have made in the neighborhood. They do this by passing and enforcing a wide range of rules regarding homes and common areas. They also may be responsible for the maintenance and repairs of community assets and resolving disputes between members. In order to fund these actions, they will usually collect fees from members. Most of the time, the associations will be able to handle these activities independently.

WHY DOES MY INSURANCE ESTIMATE HAVE AN ACV AND RCV NUMBER?

After you've made a claim, the insurance company's adjuster will inspect your home for damage and prepare an estimate. When you receive the insurance company's estimate, you see that it lists two amounts for "RCV" and "ACV." How much money do you have to make repairs?

What insurance policies generally do and do not cover

When natural disasters strike, they may cause various forms of damage to homes and apartments. Items inside of a home or apartment may also be damaged or lost in the aftermath of a storm. A standard homeowners or renters insurance policy in the U.S. will likely cover the cost of repairing a home. It will also likely help individuals pay to repair or replace belongings damaged inside of the home, apartment or condo.

Of course, there are exceptions to what a homeowners or similar insurance policy will cover. For example, one may not help to pay for damages that were caused by a flood or earthquake. Traditional homeowners policies are also unlikely to pay for damages caused by mudslides or other disasters involving moving ground. However, it's possible to purchase flood or mudslide insurance policies, and it may be necessary to buy coverage for both a home and the possessions inside of it.

Tips for making storm damage insurance claims

The U.S. has been hit by an unusual number of severe thunderstorms this summer. For example, on Aug. 11, a hailstorm tore through Billings, Montana, shattering windows and punching holes in roofs. This sort of damage can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair, forcing many homeowners to file an insurance claim to recover their losses. Fortunately, there are several things they can do to make the claims process go more smoothly.

According to experts, the first thing homeowners should do is remain calm and avoid making costly mistakes, such as failing to get a full assessment of their property damage or paying a random contractor to make quick repairs. Instead, it is better for homeowners to take their time and ask their insurance agent plenty of questions before making any big decisions. Second, it's important for homeowners to take pictures of all property damage before starting to clean up or make any repairs. Next, they should cover any broken windows or holes in the roof to prevent more damage from the elements.

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