The response is no, you can’t individually request reconsideration on behalf of your Condominium or as an individual for a decision made by a Board of Directors of a Condominium if you are not a named insurer under the policy.
This was ruled by the Appeal’s Court in Puerto Rico, in a case related to Hurricane Maria damages to a condominium.1 In Perez Marrero v. MAPFRE Insurance Company, Hurricane Maria caused damages to the Ashford Lagoon Plaza Condominium were the Perez couple lived. The Board of Directors notified MAPFRE of the damages and after an adjustment of the damages was made, MAPFRE offered the Condominium $1,467,402.31. Subsequently, the Perez couple notified the Board of the Directors that their property damage estimate was for the amount of $248,168.00. The Board of Directors had a meeting in which they approved MAPFRE’s offer. The Perez couple was not satisfied with MAPFRE’s offer and asked the Board of Directors if they could ask MAPFRE to reconsider their offer for their particular case, and the request was unanimously approved by the Board. The couple then requested MAPFRE to reconsider their offer, but this was denied by MAPFRE.
The Perez couple then filed a torts claim against MAPFRE, alleging that their property damages surpassed the amount MAPFRE had given the Condominium, and claimed the difference between MAPFRE’s offer and their damage estimate along with the expenses incurred for security of their property, deterioration suffered by their property, and attorney fees and costs. MAPFRE filed a Motion to Dismiss based on the fact that, the Perez couple were not the insureds under the policy and did not have legitimacy to process an individual claim. The Perez couple filed an Opposition to the Motion of Dismissal based on the approval obtained by the Board of Directors to negotiate with the insurer, meaning the authority was beyond the policy contract.
The First Instance Court did not grant the Motion of Dismissal because there was a controversy regarding the acceptance of the offer by the Condominium and not all elements were present to determine if the offer included the damages for the Plaintiff’s apartment. MAPFRE filed reconsideration but, it was again denied and decided to file an appeal on this ruling against them.
MAPFRE appealed the ruling based on lack of Plaintiff’s legitimacy to file a claim against them as individuals because they are not the insureds under the policy and the policy does not even have a collective coverage clause or Omnibus Clause to provide them legitimacy. MAPFRE also alleged they did not consent for the Board to yield their rights to the Plaintiff under their policy and the First Instance Court errored on converting the Motion for Dismissal in a Summary Judgment when MAPFRE had not even filed their first response to the demand. Last, MAPFRE alleged the Plaintiff did not have a right to file a claim against them regarding the offer made that was accepted by the Board of Directors.
The Appeals Court found that on this specific policy, the named insurer was the Association of Co-Owners of Condominium Ashford Lagoon Plaza, therefor, the Board of Directors of the Condominium is the insured in this case. The Appeals court examined the policy and did not find any Collective Clause that would allow the Perez couple to file an independent claim separate from the Board of Directors. The authority given by the Board of Directors to the Plaintiff did not have any effect and did not transform them into insurers under this policy. The Appeals Court also ruled that when the Board of Directors accepted MAPFRE’s offer and deposited the check, that put an end to the claim related to Hurricane Maria damages. Therefor, the only person with legitimacy and considered an insured in this case was the Board of Directors.
It is important for condominium property owners to understand the difference between claims that can be made by the Board of Directors versus claims that can be made as individual apartment owners. This case is an example of the difference that exists and of the limitations regarding insurance claims that can be filed against insurance companies.
1 Perez Marrero v. MAPFRE PRAICO Ins. Co., No. 2018-cv-10929, 2019 WL 6359175 (P.R. Cir. Oct. 2, 2019).