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FAQs

For Unit Owners:

How do I report a new claim?
If your Association is professionally managed, we ask that you report the claim to your  management company as a matter of protocol. Your property manager will then contact us, and we in turn will process your claim with our carrier. In the meantime, take the necessary steps to minimize/prevent further damage.
How do I request a certificate of insurance?
All requests for certificates of insurance must be made in writing, and may be requested through our website using Request a Certificate, or by faxing your written request to 301-588-5177. Your request should include 1) the name of the condominium association, 2) the name(s) of the borrower(s), 3) the name of the lender, and 4) the lender’s mortgagee clause, including the address the lender wants shown on the certificate. Provide us with a return e-mail address (preferable), fax number, or mailing address where we should forward the certificate.
How long will it take for me to get a certificate of insurance?
We provide certificates within three (3) business days. In order to avoid an expediting charge, we encourage lenders to request certificates well in advance of the date the certificate is needed for closing.  Should you have questions, please contact Nancy Mavuba-Mulanga or Carol Leo at [email protected] or 301-588-6585, ext.104.
What does a Master Policy include?
Master Policy coverages can feature a variety of enhancements to meet the specific needs of an association, but generally include:
1) Property Coverage written either on a Guaranteed Replacement Cost basis or on a Replacement Cost basis. Replacement Cost coverage replaces at current replacement values and without depreciation, everything deeded to a unit at time of original sale (as the developer conveyed the unit, absent betterments and improvements), up to the limit stated on the policy. Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage is written the same way, but in addition guarantees that the policy will pay the full extent of a loss even if the loss exceeds the blanket value shown on the policy. Property losses are subject to the deductible shown on the policy. Some property exposures (such as accounts receivables, plants/trees/shrubs, outdoor signs, valuable papers, etc.) are subject to specified “sublimits” that are outside the limit shown on the actual building structure(s).
2) General Liability Coverage pays bodily injury and property damage claims that are the responsibility of the association. An example would be a “slip and fall” claim that takes place in common area. Depending upon the company writing coverage, there may or may not be a deductible attached to this policy.
3)   Employee Dishonesty/Crime Coverage protects association funds in the care, custody, and control of the board of directors, any employees or volunteers the association may hire, and an association’s professional management company if there is one. Coverage is generally subject to a deductible.
4)   Boiler and Machinery/Equipment Breakdown Coverage pays for damage as the result of a covered loss to the steam boiler or systems of the building(s).
Again, other coverage features and enhancements are also typical of a Master Policy, the sublimits of which may be specifically written to your community’s needs.
What insurance coverages do condominium unit owners need?
In most cases, the Master Policy we provide covers everything deeded to a unit when it was originally conveyed by the developer, including cabinets, fixtures, original-grade flooring/carpeting, and appliances (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, etc., if those items were included in the initial offering). Owners should purchase an HO-6 (condominium unit owners’ policy) to cover their personal property, as well as to provide personal liability coverage inside the unit. In addition, if an owner has made improvements to the unit, improvements and betterments coverage should be purchased under the HO-6; the Master Policy will not pay to repair or replace improvements, betterments, or additions that an owner has made to a unit. In addition, the Master Policy will not pay for an owner’s additional living expenses should his or her unit become uninhabitable following a loss. Additional Living Expense coverage (pays for you to temporarily live elsewhere if you are displaced from your unit following a loss) is also available under the HO-6 policy.
Please note, too, that if you are displaced from your unit following a loss, you are responsible for continuing to make both your mortgage payment and your condominium fee payment to your association.
For owners of units in associations that have passed on to the unit owner the responsibility for paying the Master Policy deductible, it may be possible for the unit owner’s HO-6 policy to pay the Master Policy deductible or a portion of the deductible, less the HO-6 policy’s deductible (usually $250-$500). Contact your own HO-6 carrier about this option.
Does your Agency provide homeowners’/HO-6 policies?
Our Agency focuses on providing Master Policy coverages for community associations; however, we can provide you with provider referrals for individual   HO-6 coverage protection. You may also wish to inquire about the availability of coverage through your automobile insurance carrier.
For Property Managers and Self-Managed Communities:
How do I make a request for an insurance bid?
You may request an insurance quote through our website using the link Request an Insurance Quote, or you may contact us by telephone. In order to submit applications to our carriers, we ask that you prepare the following information for us in order to expedite your bid submission. In addition, while we know it is not always possible, we ask that you contact us at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of the current insurance contract to allow us time for the application and proposal process. In order to assist us in the application process, please note that we will need:
1)     A five-year loss/claims history for the community.
2)     The insurance section of the association’s bylaws.
3)     The number of buildings and units.
4)     The construction type and number of stories.
5)     Total square footage.
6)     The limits of coverage desired.
7)     Number and type of amenities such as pools, clubhouses, and tot lots.
8)     A list of addresses and a plat plan.
9)     Age of the community and any updates (wiring, plumbing, roofing).
10)   HVAC units or central boiler? How many boilers?
11)   Life safety: (sprinklers? fire alarms? fire extinguishers? emergency lighting?)
12)   Any water exposure (lakes, streams, ponds, coastal)?
13)   Any workers compensation exposure? Please have available the number of
employees, their duties, gross annual salaries (including any apartment
allowance), and federal tax ID number.
14)   Any owned vehicles? We will need the year, make, model and vehicle
identification number (VIN).
15)   Inception date desired and proposal due date.
NOTE: This is not a solicitation for an offer of insurance in states where we are not licensed. Our Agency is licensed only in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
How do I report a claim?
You may complete the Report a Claim form on our website, or contact Rosslyn Lopez at 301-588-6585 x103. Please have the following information available:
1)     Date of loss.
2)     Proximate cause of loss and resulting damage, including an estimated dollar
amount.
3)     Unit(s) and owner(s) affected, including phone numbers the adjuster can use to
contact the affected parties.
What should I do following a loss?
1)     Contact the police if you suspect a crime has been committed.
2)     Call 911 if someone has been injured.
3)     Inform the unit owner of the Master Policy deductible, and find out if the loss
will exceed the Master Policy deductible. For losses to personal items, suggest
to the owner that he/she contact their own insurance carrier.
4)     Whenever possible, take photographs of the loss.
5)     To avoid further damage, you may contact the fire/water restoration company of
your choice.
6)     To expedite coordination and resolution of the claim, please be available to the
insurance adjuster for inspection and questions.

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General Coverage Questions
What can our community expect in terms of an increase at renewal?
Barring growth of the community (additional units, amenities, or other added exposures), premium increases are predicated on current market conditions, including the availability of coverages. In addition, premiums fluctuate when there are fewer carriers in the marketplace, which creates further demand. Associations can minimize premium increases by practicing good risk management, by minimizing the chance of loss through a sound maintenance program, and by educating owners to do the same.
Master Policy deductibles seem to be increasing even though our Association filed very few claims. Why?
For many years, Master Policies included property damage deductibles of $1,000. While low deductibles kept costs down for many associations, the small deductible resulted in a large number of small, maintenance-related claims being paid that served as a short-term remedy for a loss rather than addressing the source of the problem (leaking pipes, aging roofs, washing machine hose breaks, water heater failure, condensate line overflows, etc.). Because insurance coverage is designed to protect insureds from larger and/or catastrophic losses and not serve as a maintenance contract, many carriers are implementing higher deductibles as a means of controlling smaller losses and shifting responsibility back to the unit owner for maintenance-related claims in an effort to keep the insurance program viable and premiums lower for a long time to come. Again, practicing sound risk management and maintaining the association’s structures will help to keep costs down, especially when small losses fall under the new, higher deductibles.

What can my community do to reduce the chance of loss?
Aside from regular maintenance of the property, annual inspections and service of condensate lines, equipping washing machines with floodchek hoses, inspecting aging water heaters (and mandating replacement before loss can occur), cleaning out gutters, checking for slip and fall hazards such as broken, cracked, and raised pavement, replacing faulty, old, or polybutylene pipes, and cleaning out dryer vents are all excellent ways to reduce the  possibility, or at least severity, of a loss.

To reduce the chance of pipes freezing and bursting in the winter, it is extremely important to inform owners who travel or who may not live in their units during the winter that they must maintain heat in their units of at least 55°. Too often, large losses occur from pipes freezing and breaking in a vacant unit.

What is Umbrella coverage?
Umbrellas, or excess liability coverage policies, serve to extend the underlying limits of an insured’s General Liability, Directors and Officers Liability, and if written, Automobile and Workers Compensation policies, by whatever amount is carried as an Umbrella limit. Today’s Umbrellas can range from the very smallest $1,000,000 limit to limits of well over $50,000,000. The limit carried is a business decision that the board of directors must make taking into consideration the number of community members (homes/units), number and type of amenities (pools, lakes/ponds, tennis courts, etc. all increase the risk of loss), and what the annual budget will bear.

How Much Employee Dishonesty (Crime/Fidelity) coverage should we carry?
The secondary lending institutions (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) suggest carrying a bond equal to three (3) months’ worth of the association’s annual operating expenses, plus one (1) year’s worth of reserves. The limit may also be a specific amount as called for in the association’s bylaws. No matter what limit is carried, make sure that all parties that have access to and control of the association’s funds are insured by this policy. In addition, ensure that check-signing controls are in place (reviewing canceled checks, making certain that checks drawn from the operating account are budgeted/accounted for), and that access to the reserve account is limited to board members.
What is Directors and Officers (D&O) Liability coverage?
While no two D&O forms are created equally, and policy language differs from one carrier to the next, the programs we represent serve to cover errors, misstatements, misleading statements acts, omissions, neglect, or breach of duty committed or attempted, or allegedly committed or attempted, by the insured or by one or more insured persons, individually or collectively, in their respective capacities as such, including but not limited to any Wrongful Employment Practices. Wrongful Employment Practices means any actual or alleged: (1) wrongful dismissal, discharge or termination of employment; (2) employment related misrepresentation; (3) violation of employment laws; (4) sexual or workplace harassment of any kind; (5) employment discrimination; (6) wrongful failure to employ or promote; (7) wrongful discipline; (8) wrongful deprivation of career opportunity including a wrongful failure to hire or promote; (9) failure to grant tenure; (10) negligent employment evaluation; and/or (11) failure to provide adequate workplace or employment policies and procedures. We encourage you to review policy language for exact wording of your policy coverages and exclusions.
My Directors and Officers Liability coverage is “Claims Made” coverage. What does that mean?
Claims made policies protect policyholders from “wrongful acts” of which both occur and are reported to the insurance company while the claims made policy is in continuous force. This is in contrast to the broader occurrence policy forms, which cover loss that occurs during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is first made. An extended reporting period or “tail coverage” can be purchased for an additional premium to cover an insured for incidents that occurred while the policy was in force, but were reported after the policy is cancelled or expired.
What does the A.M. Best rating requirement in our bylaws mean?
Carrier ratings are generally issued by A.M. Best, the leading provider of financial strength ratings and data of carriers in the insurance industry. Secure carriers are rated A++ or A+ (Superior), A or A- (Excellent), and B++ or B+ (Very Good). Carriers with ratings of B or less are considered vulnerable to being unable to pay claims in the event of a catastrophic loss or event that affects many insureds.
Many insurance buyers only want to consider buying insurance coverage from companies they believe have sufficient financial capacity to provide the necessary policy limits to insure their risks. For more information on financial size and ratings, contact us, or visit www.ambest.com.

I found mold in my home. Is mold coverage included in the Master Policy?
The latest round of insurance coverage exclusions or modified limits of coverage in insurance policies pertains to mold coverage. In our area, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have all approved the exclusion in commercial policies, and any limits of coverage included would be at the discretion of the individual carriers.
As a homeowner, it is important to file water-related claims immediately and get the environment under control quickly following a water loss to maintain relative humidity under 40 percent and the room temperature at 72°. For more information, see the article,  Mold Claims and Insurance Coverage.
If you have a question not covered in this section, we invite you to Contact Us.