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Triple-I Blog | Long-term considerations From apartment collapse



The insurer of the Champlain Towers South apartment association has said it will pay an advance payment to settle claims related to the 1

2-story beachfront property in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Fla. ., which collapsed on June 24, 2021.

"We want to make it known that the James River Insurance Company has decided to voluntarily bid its entire limit from the attached policy in an attempt to resolve all claims in this matter," the insurer's attorney wrote. to the judge who handled a class action lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages from the association.

Since the collapse last week, four residents or their families have filed a lawsuit against the association. Many more suits are expected in the coming months, and disputes can take years as investigators work to determine what caused the collapse. The first court hearing was held yesterday, and a judge in the Miami-Dade Circuit admitted that the building's total insurance coverage of $ 48 million is unlikely to be enough.

In total, the court heard that the cooperative's main policy has $ 30 million. in property coverage and $ 18 million in liability protection. The apartment association has agreed to hand over financial decision-making to a court-appointed "recipient."

Looking for survivors as the storm approaches

With investigators still working to find and rescue survivors and Hurricane Elsa – the first of the 2021 hurricane season in the Atlantic and the earliest "E-named" storm on road – towards Florida, the situation is still fluid. This week, dozens of units at an apartment building in central Florida near Disney World were considered unsafe after an inspection showed that walkways leading to the units were in danger of collapsing, according to a spokesman for Osceola County. Residents were urged to enter the buildings that contain the units at their own risk, the spokesman said, adding that county staff offered residents help with temporary housing.

Increased awareness of the condition of older high-rise buildings in South Florida and across the United States in the wake of the Champlain Towers collapse could lead to an increase in claims for loss of use. In addition, many companies in the vicinity of the collapse have become inaccessible during the rescue operation, which could lead to business interruptions.

Spotlight on building codes

In addition, this event may lead to a review of building codes and inspection methods nationwide. South Florida's building regulations are among the country's strongest – designed to protect residents from hurricanes. The state implemented mandatory codes after Hurricane Andrew in Category 5 tore homes from their foundations and left 65 dead in Homestead in 1992, and some counties – particularly in South Florida – have added stricter requirements.

But after last week's collapse, IBHS chief engineer Anne Cope said, "This is a moment like Katrina and Andrew, where we'll learn something and make changes."

Many of the region's buildings – including Champlain Towers South – were built before 1992 as part of a South Florida apartment boom. These buildings are subject to codes that were in place when they were built, and are only required to undergo local county inspections every four years – for example, the 2018 review of the Surfside apartment where an engineer raised red flags that the building was beginning to address but warned not for imminent disaster.

A FEMA study last year said that implementing modern building codes could save states and cities billions of dollars.


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