Report: #958170

Complaint Review: Universal Property and Casualty Insurance

  • Submitted: Mon, October 22, 2012
  • Updated: Thu, November 01, 2012
  • Reported By: Rita — Winter Haven Florida United States of America
  • Universal Property and Casualty Insurance
    1110 W. Commercial Blvd. Suite 305,
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    United States of America

Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Universal Adjusting Corporation Air Condtioner Struck by Lightning and Universal Property struck me down with a bunch of malarkey Fort Lauderdale, Florida

*Consumer Comment: Universal Property & Casualty Insurance IS THE WORST

*General Comment: Florida Condo Statute

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On 9/22/2012 I was notified by the tenant that rents my condo that after a severe lightning storm, the air conditioner was not working.  I called an air conditoner repair service and was advised that the compressor was damaged by lighning and I could either replace the compressor or the entire unit.

I filed a claim immediately with Universal Property & Casualty.  They sent our an adjuster on 9/27/2012.

In the meantime I was told by Universal to tell the tenant that if she found it unbearable to stay at the condo, she could pay for a hotel out of pocket, just keep the receipts so I can deduct the pay from her rent.

The adjuster that came out called me and told me that the air condtioner was damaged however, in the State of Florida there is a statute that states in Florida, Condo Associations Insurance are responsible for the damages, upkeep and repair of external air conditioners.  I contacted the condo association and was told that our governing documents do not support that and everyone is responsible for their air conditoner.

I was told by Universal adjuster, Elvis Toledo that there was a way around this.  If I could prove that I purchased the air conditoner, then Universal would look at my claim.

I could not believe this.  I did not have a receipt of purchase for the air condtioner. 

I contacted the Florida Insurance Commissioner and filed a complaint with their office.  They agreed with me that the majority of insurance companies request an estimate of how much it would cost to repair the damaged unit, not a proof of purchase.  The insurance commissioner representative took all my information on 10/5/2012 and filed a complaint against Universal Property. 

On 10/12/2012, I received a phone call from the field adjuster that came out initially and he told me that he needed to take a taped statement from me.  He asked me a series of questions concerning the claim, when the air conditioner was purchased, and verified information.  He also asked me to fax the hotel receipts, all the items I purchased in reference to the claim (window unit and box fans).

On Friday, 10/19/2012, I received a letter from Universal dated 10/16/2012, stating they need original proof of purchased/work order for the damaged A/C unit, and a completed affidavit that has to be signed, and notarized by a license contractor within 10 days of the letter or my claim will be considered closed.

I have even contacted my local insurance agent Citadel and they have yet to return my calls.  In the meantime, my tenant is without central heat and air, and Universal is stringing me along with a long unnecessary process.

I now see all the negative reviews on this company and feel that they are wanting me to just go away and pay out of pocket. 

This has caused me a lot of stress and most of all hurt and pain because why pay for insurance if you have to go through this.  My sister told me that she had her air conditioner to be struck by lightning and all she had to do was get three estimates and submit them to the insurance company.  The insurance company sent her a check (after her deductible) for the cost of the repair. 

I feel this company is a huge ripoff.  Several condo owners say they have Universal for their insurance and after seeing what they took me through said they will be changing to another insurance company as soon as possible.
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#1 Consumer Comment

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance IS THE WORST

AUTHOR: AL I. - ()

They have a F RATING WITH THE BBB The state of Florida has fined them 1.3 million dollars for dragging there feet on claims

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#2 General Comment

Florida Condo Statute

AUTHOR: Utah - (United States of America)

I am an insurance agent that specializes in condo associations.  I think your association (not Universal) is giving you the run around. 

I would highly recommend notifying your association IN WRITING of this lightning loss to the AC unit and demand they pay for it.  Print them out a copy of this too:

Condo association formation documents rule EXCEPT when it comes to hazard losses, then the FL Statute 718.111 take precedence over the association formation documents (whether they like it or not).  There only 1 exception to Hazard losses (Section (j) Opt Outs) which I'll discuss below. 

So regardless of what your condo associations documents say, HAZARD losses (like lightning strikes) follow the FL Statute 718.111 which was specifically modified in 2008 to make air conditioners the association's responsibility to insure and therefore cover.

718.111 (11):

(f) Every property insurance policy issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, for the purpose of protecting the condominium must provide primary coverage for:

1. All portions of the condominium property as originally installed or replacement of like kind and quality, in accordance with the original plans and specifications.

2. All alterations or additions made to the condominium property or association property pursuant to s. 718.113(2).

3. The coverage must exclude all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.  Such property and any insurance thereupon is the responsibility of the unit owner.

#3 is list of things that were not covered by the association for hazard losses.   If it's not on this list, its covered by the association (for hazard losses only, normal wear & tear still follow the condo association documents).  Air Conditioners were specifically taken out of this list of excluded items in (3) above in 2009, meaning the association is responsible for AC Units for hazard losses (like lightning strikes).

Now the association may say they carry a high deductible and are not going to turn this in to their insurance carrier.  Too bad, they still have to cover the AC unit as 718.111(11) further says:

(j) Any portion of the condominium property that must be insured by the association against property loss pursuant to paragraph (f) which is damaged shall be reconstructed, repaired, or replaced as necessary by the association as a common expense. All property insurance deductibles, uninsured losses, and other damages in excess of property insurance coverage under the property insurance policies maintained by the association are a common expense of the condominium (meaning they can't just pay for it and send you the entire bill), except that (there is one exception for negligence, meaning damage you caused):

1. A unit owner is responsible for the costs of repair or replacement of any portion of the condominium property not paid by insurance proceeds if such damage is caused by intentional conduct, negligence, or failure to comply with the terms of the declaration or the rules of the association by a unit owner, the members of his or her family, unit occupants, tenants, guests, or invitees, without compromise of the subrogation rights of the insurer.2

There is also 1 exception to this whole process, if you condo association passed 718.111(11)(k) OPT-OUT, which is rare since it take a majority vote and the condo docs have to be amended.

(k) An association may, upon the approval of a majority of the total voting interests in the association, opt out of the provisions of paragraph (j) for the allocation of repair or reconstruction expenses and allocate repair or reconstruction expenses in the manner provided in the declaration as originally recorded or as amended. Such vote may be approved by the voting interests of the association without regard to any mortgagee consent requirements.

This Section (k) OPT OUT language says that if the association passes an OPT OUT by majority vote, they could allocate this loss back to you instead of paying for it as a common expense.

My recommendations is that you immediately:

Ask if they have passed a 718.111.(11)(k) Opt Out. My guess is the answer is no as this is very rare.  I'd send a letter (certified) to your association and informing them that you had a loss to your AC unit by Lightning Strike on XX date, include an estimate of the damage and demand they pay for this immediately.  I'd recommend the association checks with their insurance agent and their attorney before they deny your request.

Good luck!
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