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Common Ground Liability

Within a development for which a community association is responsible will be common grounds. Common grounds are those areas and structures that are shared among the residents, that are not part of any property owner’s tract of land. Responsibility for common grounds typically lie with the homeowner’s association or the condo owners association. Here are a few thoughts on insurance for common grounds:

Carry Liability Insurance – Any accident or injury that happens on common ground could create a liability for the community association. Talk with your insurance agent about an umbrella policy that will cover events such as a slip and fall, or if a person is hurt on a piece of equipment on the common property.

Carry Enough Insurance – Having sufficient liability insurance for common grounds is very important. In some situations, unit owners in a condominium development may have difficulty selling their condo if lenders determine there is not enough liability insurance. Over time, a condo board or homeowner’s trustees may need to update their coverage levels to match that which is currently required.

Maintain Structures and Features – Structures such as decks, gazebos, playground equipment, and tennis courts should be kept in good repair. Injuries that can be traced to maintenance negligence can make an unfortunate situation much worse. While it is unlikely that a policy will not pay the injured party, poor maintenance can result in a community association being dropped from a carrier altogether. Poor maintenance practices will also make it difficult to get coverage and will certainly make rates higher.

Periodically Review Coverage – As your community association makes improvements to the common grounds, removes or adds features or change the size and scope of the property for which the board is responsible, they should review their coverage with their independent insurance agent. For instance, if a board invests in a program of maintenance and improvement, it is quite possible their insurance rates could go down, or their property might be eligible for coverage with carriers that were not able to write a policy in the past.

Among the independent agents at the O’Connor Insurance Agency are experts in community association insurance. Homeowner’s association board members, condo board members, and association trustees are welcome to give us a call at 314-434-0038 for any questions relating to liability insurance for communities.

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