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Old 09-02-2011, 07:18 AM
 
40 posts, read 33,272 times
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This is my first time posting here, before I go seeking expensive legal advice I'm hoping someone can either talk some sense into me or give me some advice.

My husband and I own a 1st floor condo in a 3-story building in Woodbridge. On the day of the earthquake last week the hot water heater in the 3rd floor unit burst and my condo was flooded. Our insurance is saying that because the hot water heater was damaged from the earthquake they are not responsible for the damage. We do not have earthquake insurance. Is this right? Who is legally responsible for the damage in my unit?

I have a meeting tonight with our insurance (Farmer's Insurance). Do I have any argument whatsoever that it was not OUR hot water heater that caused the damage, it was from someone else's? Or how can they prove it was, in fact, caused by the earthquake? It very well could have happened 5 minutes before the earthquake, and since no one was home (in my unit or in the 3rd floor unit) how do they know exactly when it happened?

I don't know anything about insurance or legal issues, but I really do not want to pay to have my entire condo renovated from this! Help!
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Old 09-02-2011, 07:48 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 4,262,165 times
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Might have some go with the "Hey, you can't PROVE it was the earthquake!"

If insurance is going to pay for the damage, it'll end up being the 3rd floor unit's insurance, won't it? I had a AC unit leaking on my ceiling when I owned in South Arlington, but the cost to replace the drywall was like $200, hardly worth bringing in insurance companies, etc., over.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:45 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,754 posts, read 10,012,995 times
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Seems like it would have to be on the insurance of the people who owned the water heater, not yours. And as you and St. P both said, just because it was the same day as the earthquake doesn't mean it was caused by the earthquake.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Roanoke, VA
1,813 posts, read 3,856,610 times
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You should read the governing documents of your project (declaration, bylaws & rules). Do these documents require that unit owners carry insurance?

I suspect that the unit owners of the burst water heater is responsible.

Out of curiosity, what kind of damage did the second floor unit suffer?

You likely will need to retain an attorney to resolve this issue.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:13 AM
 
40 posts, read 33,272 times
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All 3 units (mine, 2nd, and 3rd floor) were all flooded. 2nd and 3rd floor units were renters and I did get the 2nd floor's owners information so I plan on calling her to see if she's had any luck with her insurance or if her tenants had renter's insurance and if that was covered. I know the renters in the 3rd floor unit (where the heater burst) did not have renter's insurance so they may be out of luck.

I did forget to mention (and this may be a big issue) is that 5 hot water heaters in the entire property burst, causing 15 individual units to be damaged. This is why the condo master plan will not cover it and we were told to claim with our individual home owner's policy.

That also brings up another question, is my condo association responsible for the drywall in my unit? My husband says we are responsible for drywall and everything in the unit, and the condo association is responsible for everything behind the drywall, but I have not read through the bylaws. The condo association originally thought they could cover us to they went ahead and ripped everything out of the units, drywall, tile, carpets, etc that same day/night. It's just a mess!!

Thank you for your help so far! I'm going to fight hard this afternoon!!
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Old 09-02-2011, 10:55 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,754 posts, read 10,012,995 times
Reputation: 3931
Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzyc413 View Post
The condo association originally thought they could cover us to they went ahead and ripped everything out of the units, drywall, tile, carpets, etc that same day/night. It's just a mess!!
Whoa! That changes things. If you have some written documentation that the association told you this, I'd bet you have a strong lawsuit against the condo association if it came down to it. Even if you don't have it in writing, if you can get other residents to attest they were told the same thing, that could be enough to make the association settle to avoid a lawsuit. (If the damage is less than $3000, you could even do it in small claims court in most places.)

Ideally you'd also have photos of the unit before and after they tore everything out.

Best of luck!

Last edited by Carlingtonian; 09-02-2011 at 11:16 AM..
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Old 09-02-2011, 11:06 AM
 
2,879 posts, read 7,416,195 times
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very fishy. The only difference in the water heaters in The Bay or LA are the straps securing them to the wall. The third floor owners are clearly responsible, and you own your drywall, but they damaged it.
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Old 09-02-2011, 11:17 AM
 
515 posts, read 1,605,387 times
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I really don't know the answer to your question. I do know that earthquake damage is not covered under the standard homeowner's policy. But I just read the other day that most insurers WILL pay for damage resulting from the release of water from pipes and the like when said release occurs in conjunction with an earthquake.
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