Habitat spoke recently with Max Freedman, vice president of the management company Maxwell-Kates.
All insurance claims are not created equal, are they?
No, they’re not. I had an experience recently that was unique. There’s a private pool on the terrace of a building, and underneath that pool is a common roof. It was determined that the common roof, not the pool, was leaking, and it caused damage in three different apartments. Pretty significant in one, substantial in the other two. It happened in the fall of last year, so unfortunately, while we were able to do some temporary repairs, we couldn't replace the entire roof underneath that pool.
Because of the coming winter weather?
Right. We got a contractor and an architect involved to spec out the roof replacement, making sure there was communication to the owners and to the board about what needed to be done. Finally, when the weather turned, we were able to replace the roof. The issue, though, became insurance. Getting the insurance claims processed through all the owners was a significant undertaking because you're not dealing with one claim.
You had three owners, three damaged apartments. What did you realize when you got into this?
I realized that communication is the most important thing to everyone involved – the board, the owners who were affected, and the architects and the contractors, to make sure they're doing the right thing. But what I learned was that although we were able to manage the process with significant difficulty, it would've been more helpful if I had gotten a public adjuster to manage that process of the claim with the three different leaks.
When does a claim get complicated enough that you need outside help from a public adjuster?
I would say when you have a claim that involves two or more apartments that are damaged, I would highly recommend a public adjuster be involved to act as the liaison between the affected owners and the insurance companies. It also frees the manager to focus on the board we’re reporting to, and to make sure that the contractors and the architect are doing the right thing to fix the source of the leak. And we’re doing other things as well to keep the building running.
So if you had to do this all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have hired a public adjuster immediately.
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