Hurricane season begins in June and ends in November each year. As a member of a condominium association with a property near the coast, it is vital to prepare and establish expectations for protocol before the next storm hits. The best way to keep your property and your tenants safe is by understanding your specific responsibilities.

Keep Resident Contact Information Up To Date

Hurricane season begins in June and ends in November each year. As a member of a condominium association with a property near the coast, it is vital to prepare and establish expectations for protocol before the next storm hits. The best way to keep your property and your tenants safe is by understanding your specific responsibilities.

Emergency Volunteers

Update your list of Emergency Volunteers. The role of an Emergency Volunteer varies depending on the need and the capability of the volunteer. 

It can be anything from:

  • Reporting damage
  • Offering lodging for non-residents who stay behind to assist during a storm
  • Checking in on other residents
  • Assisting with building/facility systems in the event normal maintenance personnel cannot reach the facility

If a board member or a resident of your unit wishes to become an Emergency Volunteer, they should indicate this to the Association management.

Hurricane Harvey Cleanup

Mobility Impairment List

The Association should keep a copy of this list and make it available to the Fire Department, should they need to respond to a building emergency. If a resident of your unit would like to be placed on the mobility impaired list, ask them to indicate this and the nature of the impairment while updating their contact information.

Emergency Supplies

Below is a list of emergency supplies that residents of the unit should maintain in the event of an emergency. It is recommended the residents of your unit stock up on supplies well in advance of an imminent storm threat as supplies are certain to be limited immediately before a storm makes landfall.

Though association management is not expected to provide these, they should take responsibility in informing their residents on best practices for stocking and storing supplies.

  • Water
  • Food
  • Battery-Powered Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Local Maps
  • Fully charged cell phone with backup battery

Pre-Storm Protocol

Prior to a storm, develop a protocol specific to your unit and residents. Make sure this protocol is made available to your residents long before a threat of inclement weather. Things to consider including in this protocol:
  • Ask residents to remove ALL items from balconies and outdoor areas. This is to prevent them from becoming possible projectiles in the event of high winds. This may include satellite dishes, potted plants (even if you do not think they are capable of being lifted by the wind), and furniture.
  • Ask your residents to have a plan in place to do this prior to a storm. Failure to do so may result in a fine as well as a damage assessment for damage sustained as a result of your failure to remove these items.
  • Also ask owners and residents to remove vehicles from any flood prone areas.

What to Expect During a Storm

During a storm where wind speeds are expected to exceed 40 MPH, where floods are expected, or when extended periods of loss of power are anticipated, observe and inform the following precautions where applicable to your specific property:
  • Elevators – may be shut down to prevent passengers from being trapped during a loss of power or to prevent damage to the cabs if water could enter the elevator pits.
  • Mechanical Systems – including Air Conditioning systems and domestic water pumps, may be shut down to avoid damage to the pumps which occurs when water may be interrupted.
  • Gas and Boilers- may be shut down prior to a storm to prevent possible gas leaks as a result of wind damage. This means you may not have access to hot water until the systems are restored.
  • Automatic Gates- may be held in the open position to avoid ingress/egress disruptions in the event of a loss of power.
  • Pools and Spas- depending on the type of storm, pools and spas may be closed, drained, and the pumps shut down to prevent damage from debris entering the system.
  • Other Amenities- may be shut down or closed to secure property and protect equipment.

Damage Reporting

Doing all you can to prepare before a storm is vital but unfortunately, damages may still occur. As an association manager, you must know the protocol of reporting damages so that you can properly inform the residents of your unit.

Harvey Insurance Claims Head Start
  • If residents receive any damage from a storm or notice that any Association maintained property is damaged, they need to document and photograph those losses.
  • Ask residents to mitigate damage to the best of their ability and immediately report any damage of the Common Elements to Management and provide the available photos.
  • As the Association’s Management, you are responsible for taking these reports and letting your residents know best practices for the reporting methods.
  • Your unit owners have a responsibility to attempt to preserve the property affected by a loss to the extent they are able, however safety should never be compromised to save or salvage property.

Building Versus Unit Insurance Coverage

  • Association insurance policies

    Association insurance policies vary in coverage. Traditional association coverage extends to one of these four areas:

    • Common Area Only
    • Building Shell Only
    • Building and Units (less betterments and improvements)
    • Building and Units (including betterments and improvements)

    Your Association’s insurance policy will never cover your contents or relocation costs after a loss is sustained.

    Be sure you purchase insurance for yourself to cover items for which the Association is not responsible. You will need to consult with your own professional agent to review the Association’s coverage to be sure you are getting the coverage you need. At the least, please remember that you are responsible for:

    • Your contents (furniture, office equipment, clothing, dishes, etc.)
    • Your personal liability
    • Additional living expenses should you need to move (or have a loss of income) from the property due to damage to your unit
  • Unit Owners

    For unit owners in a condominium, you can be held responsible for paying for damage within the deductible on the Association’s insurance policy. For example, if a loss is sustained, regardless of cause, to property covered by the Association’s policy but is less than the policy deductible, or if you, your tenant, or a guest cause a loss or if the loss was caused by something maintained by you or under your control. Contact your personal insurance agent to discuss a Condominium Owner’s Policy which can offer coverage for your responsibility in these areas.

  • Deductibles

    The deductible for a “named” storm (any storm given a name by the National Weather Service) is significant. In the event of a loss, it is possible that each unit owner could be special assessed to cover the deductible. You have the ability to “insure” this special assessment by purchasing the “Condominium Loss Assessment Endorsement” as part of your personal insurance coverage that was addressed in #2 above. Please consult with your personal insurance agent about your individual needs and verify with them that you have the proper coverage, which is generally referred to as a Homeowners-Condominium Owner Policy (HO-CON or HO6). You can add the “Condominium Loss Assessment Endorsement” to your HO-CON or HO6 policy for a minimal cost per year which will help cover you in the event of a special assessment due to a named storm deductible. The Loss Assessment Endorsement can be purchased with coverage starting at $1,000.00 and up.

As demonstrated in recent years, the seriousness of the threat posed by inclement weather cannot be overstated; however, with preparation, together we lessen the severity of a loss and hasten the recovery. The information in this article is not exhaustive and there are other steps that both you and your residents should take to prepare for hurricane season.