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A Policy's Progress The Long, Curious Life of an Insurance Claim

It's like setting your luggage on the conveyer at the airline check-in counter. Somehow your bags end up in your hands after the flight. It's just that we never quite know what happens in between letting our bag go and finding it again three hours later. The same can be said of insurance claims. When something bad happens, we call our agent to report the incident, and somehow, everything gets taken care of. It's what happens between that call and resolution that's the truly interesting part.

Getting Off on the Right Foot

For a co-op or condo association, surviving a successful insurance claim involves diligence, openness and perhaps most importantly, a good relationship with your insurance carrier. Establishing that good relationship often starts with finding the right carrier.

For many associations, finding a company with the most affordable rates is the first place they'll look. Steve Reisler, assistant vice president of Commerce Insurance Services, based in Toms River, suggests that boards and managers look in another direction first. "The most important thing when looking for an insurance carrier is to make sure they're A-rated—because you want someone that will be able to pay their bills and that has a history of paying claims."

The best way to cultivate a positive relationship between an association and their insurance carrier is to promote a good flow of communication. That way, if and when a claim arises, the association and the insurance agent already will have created a sense of trust between them.

Sharing the Bad News

When a fire hits the pool house or a visitor slips and falls on an icy sidewalk, it's time to call the insurance agent. Depending on the size of the association, that call will be made by the property manager. In other instances, that responsibility will fall to the board president. That call should never be made, however, by an individual unit owner.

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