Because of the unfortunate events involved in the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent gulf oil spill, I have not been able to take a minute to reflect on the 59th Annual Community Associations Institute National Conference which ended last week. I have been fortunate to attend many of these meetings over the years, and have watched CAI grow into a remarkable resource for anyone who is involved with Condominiums or Home Owners Associations.

Given the state of the current global economy, it is no surprise that almost every group like CAI has seen a decrease in membership over the past few years. CAI is a different story, however, in that it has seen membership grow to all time highs. Under the leadership of current President Michael Nagle, this year’s conference had a record breaking attendance of over 1,500 attorneys, managers, owners, and vendors, who all work in the community association field. Groups from multiple countries, including as far away as Dubai, traveled long distances to attend this year’s seminars, and CAI was even able to open its first international chapter in South Africa.

While this conference has informational seminars on a number of the day to day problems facing condominium and homeowner associations, I worry that the insurance aspects are under-represented. There were a few seminars on insurance which briefly touched on issues involving D&O coverage and property losses, but there seems to be a lack of relevant information regarding how an association should deal with claims.

Nothing can be more devastating to a community association than a catastrophic loss. A slow moving or unpaid claim will adversely affect associations and may lead to economic problems that extend for years. By not including more information about proper claims presentation practices and common problems, associations may be left vulnerable when disaster strikes.

The attendees at CAI Conferences have shown a lot of interest in learning about insurance issues which may affect them. In February, I attended the CAI Legal Conference and was repeatedly asked about first party property insurance problems. Losses happen all over, and the number of community associations is growing by the day. In Florida alone, over 25% of the population lives in some type of condominium or homeowner association run community. Since insurance issues and needs are typically different for an association than a regular property owner, it is important that these associations are properly educated to maximize and expedite their recovery after a loss.

The lack of an extremely active hurricane season for the past few years may play some role in the lack of insurance presentations, but I believe the down time is when the most vital preparation should take place. Now is the time to review insurance policies, discuss coverages, and make changes. After a loss, it will likely be too late.

CAI is an outstanding organization that does a wonderful job of promoting the interests and education of its members. I hope that many of you who deal with associations, or who would like to in the future, will join CAI and help me in bringing insurance issues back to the forefront.

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