Who compensates for repairs of storm-stricken apartment buildings?[Sandra Smirnova | 29.09]
Autumn brings strong gusts of wind and storms that break down trees, tear away roofing and in extreme cases leave entire apartment buildings without shelter. But who compensates for the damage in these cases?
With the arrival of autumn, Estonia is once again at the mercy of high-speed gusts of wind that boost the number of insured events. The growing damage toll gives a good idea of the threat storm winds and precipitation can pose on people’s health, homes and property. “House owners tend to be clear on how to find a solution quickly in a critical situation, whereas in apartment buildings, the question of responsibility often remains vague and the elimination of problems is very stressful,” says Sandra Smirnova, Asset Insurance Product Manager at Seesam.
As an example, Smirnova says that were the roof of a private residence to be damaged due to a storm, the owner would generally know whether they have insurance and, if so, who to turn to. However, if the same were to happen to the roof of an apartment building, the damage pertains to the co-ownership of all the homeowners and everyone is jointly and severally liable. “Home insurance offers protection from risks inside the apartment, but in the event of damage to co-owned parts, such as the load-bearing structures, foundation, balconies, basement, roof, façade or auxiliary facilities of the apartment building, the apartment association as a whole is liable for any expenses related to repairs,” says Smirnova.
One of the most shocking cases in Seesam was the tragic accident from last spring when a storm ripped off the roof of an apartment building in full and caused 30,000 euros worth of damage. “The apartment association in this particular case was small, as there were only eight apartments in the building. Had they not had real estate property insurance, members of the apartment association would have had to pay out of pocket for the repairs, and for this claim event, the amount would have been 3750 euros per apartment ownership. Since storm gusts are, as a rule, accompanied by heavy rainfall, additional moisture damage may further increase the claim amount.
For this reason, to avoid unexpected expenses, apartment owners should insure their personal apartments as well as enter into a joint insurance contract for the entire apartment building. “In recent years, the number of apartment associations looking to get insurance coverage has increased. One of the reasons behind this growing interest is increased awareness in general, and on the other hand, apartment associations may be driven to seek insurance due to a past accident where association members had to pay for the damage out of pocket. For the average apartment building, the insurance amount paid per apartment amounts to just a couple of euros, yet the sense of security gained in the face of uncertainty is worth every cent,” says the expert.