By: AJ Scott, CPCU, CIRMS,. Community Partners Insurance Agency, LLC
If your Association is professionally managed, it’s critical that your Directors & Officers Liability (D&O) insurance extend coverage to your management company.
Pause – which one is D&O again?
D&O protects the Association, the Board of Directors collectively, and individual board members against “wrongful acts” allegations, much like an errors & omissions policy. Essentially, if someone objects to how the Association is being operated, administered, or governed, this is the policy most likely to respond. Common claims include failure to enforce the governing documents, improper handling of an election, challenges to assessments, breach of fiduciary duty, objections to architectural review decisions, and so forth. Like other liability policies, D&O insurance contains coverage for both defense costs (legal expenses to defend the claim) and indemnity payments (money damages, such as a settlement or a judgment, IF awarded to the claimant).
Whether you are a board member or a community manager, it is important to determine the quality of the Association's D&O insurance because the scope of coverage can vary significantly from one provider to the next.
OK, so why should our management company be covered under our policy? Shouldn’t they have their own insurance?
Yes, management companies need their own errors & omissions insurance for their business dealings. However, when acting under the Board's direction as the Association's designated agent, it is reasonable and appropriate for them to be covered by the Association's insurance.
Community Association Answers
By: Shelley Grover, HOA Solutions Inc.
Who decides whether a community will be an HOA?
Forming an HOA isn’t necessarily decided by one person/group. If a city will not maintain the open space areas in a community, an HOA must be formed to take on that role. If there are private roads, an HOA must be formed to own the roads, and maintain them. If there is no open space or roads to maintain, sometimes a developer will form and HOA anyway because they want to see the properties maintained and built a certain way, which they can control through the creation of an HOA and the CC&R’s.
Can an HOA be dissolved? How would a community go about dissolving one?
The CC&R’s will specify how to dissolve the HOA. A vote would be required with 67% to 100% of members required to agree on dissolving, plus lender approval. However, before an HOA can attempt a vote, there are many steps that must occur first, especially if there is common area (land the HOA owns and maintains). The board must work through everything the HOA owns and maintains and find other entities, such as the city, to be willing to take the areas over should a vote succeed. The board must work with the HOA’s attorney through the process. Most managers will never experience this process. It is rare for an HOA to be able to dissolve, especially if it has common area.
What would you suggest to people who are not happy with their HOA?
Get involved. If you are not on the board, attend meetings anyway. If you can, run for the board. Volunteer if you are not elected. Help however you can. If you really can’t get involved and don’t like it, you should consider a move to a community that does not have an HOA.
If you like to maintain your property, have pride of ownership that reflects this and you want everyone to follow the rules, an HOA is perfect for you. If you do not want someone telling you what to do – and can’t handle that at all – then don’t live in an HOA.
I personally moved to a non-HOA area because when I did live in one, I hated it – – didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, and at the same time, was mad that my neighbors wouldn’t follow the rules.
HOAs serve a purpose and are a perfect match for some. The key is to educate yourself and make the decision, hopefully before you buy a home!
By: Brandi Pearson, Verity Property Management
January is a month of New Year cheer, and new Association budgets and assessments. It is the Board of Directors fiduciary duty to approve their Associations budget of anticipated revenues and expenses for the new year based on contract amounts, prior years actual expenses, and levels of services desired for the community. It’s also a best practice to provide the Board and members a budget narrative which explains critical budget line items. To avoid confusion and questions and provide transparency, a sound budget needs to be shared with the members. This may also be required by the Associations governing documents and state statutes.
The Role of the Board of Directors
By Michael Madson, MGM Management
A homeowners association is the cornerstone of a planned community. When run properly, it brings continuity, preserves architectural integrity, maintains common areas, protects property values, and promotes the concept of “community.” Every association should be responsible for its assets and operation in accordance with state laws and the community’s governing documents.
To be effective, an association should have a strong board of directors whose members know the responsibilities that come with their volunteer positions, including the need to govern uniformly and fairly, and have a clear understanding of the association’s strengths and weaknesses, its history, and what needs to be accomplished. The board’s authority includes all of the powers and duties contained in state statutes, as long as these are consistent with the provisions of the governing documents.
Insuring Association Added Amenities
By: Becky Hayes, CIRMS, EBP - LaBarre Oksnee Insurance Agency
Among the many considerations for an association, when adding amenities to their community, is the Liability exposure and making sure that the association is properly covered should there be an injury or lawsuit.
Amenities will require both property and liability insurance coverage. Property insurance protects the equipment owned by the association and covers replacement cost of those items due to a covered peril. Liability insurance will cover bodily injury and property damage claims that are brought by a third party due to use of the amenities. A slip and fall on the pickleball and Tennis courts, an injury while using gym equipment or even a dog bite at the dog park may have legal ramifications.
When seeking property insurance for an amenity, you must provide your agent with accurate replacement values of each added piece of equipment. Determining these values can be achieved in a number of ways. A receipt if the equipment has been recently purchased, an appraisal done on existing equipment or this information can sometimes be found on a reserve study. Many carriers are requesting the Associations Reserve Study In order to ensure they are adequately covering their insured.
By: Jeremy Newman CPA, Newman Certified Public Accountant PC
Receivables are an asset which is generally presented just below cash on the balance sheet. It represents amounts the association has the right to receive.
Receivables are amounts due from other people or entities. For associations, the largest and most common receivable is for unpaid assessments. Most associations bill owners for assessments each month. If an owner has not paid their monthly assessment by the due date, the assessment is considered a receivable from the owner.
Recording assessments revenues on the accrual basis without considering the effect of delinquent accounts receivable can mislead readers of an association’s statement of revenues and expenses. Assessments are recorded when billed under the accrual method. Should there be an accumulation of delinquent accounts, the statement of revenues and expenses will continue to present results assuming 100% collection of outstanding assessments. Readers should always refer to an aging report to assess the status of assessments receivable.
By: Jeremy Newman CPA, Newman Certified Public Accountant PC
We introduced you to balance sheets in our last blog, which was the first in our Reading Financial Statements Series ©
In this and following blogs we will explore some typical association balance sheet accounts in more detail.
Everyone likes cash! Associations are no different. Without enough cash, association management and community property can become neglected, often leading to future major repairs requiring loans and special assessments. Understanding what activities have the most impact on cash balances is vital to the future success of an association’s operations. As managers and board leaders, it is so important to review cash activity and balances continuously. Be proactive in a timely manner. Not reactive two years down the road.
By: Jeremy Newman CPA, Newman Certified Public Accountant PC
This blog is to introduce you to balance sheets. This is the first in our Reading Financial Statements Series ©
What is a balance sheet?
Balance sheets present the financial position of your association as of a certain date, usually the month or year end.
What are the classifications of accounts on my association’s balance sheet?
What the association owns or owns the rights to, including:
What the association owes or is obligated to pay, including:
Equity or fund balances
The association’s net worth.
Generally, represents the cumulative revenues minus expenses over the life of the association since its inception.
Basis of Accounting
One of my favorite topics is “What basis of accounting is used to present your association’s financial statements?”
Some balance sheet accounts will not be presented on financial statements if your association presents its financial statements using the cash basis of accounting. Being aware of what you are reading, as well as what may be missing from the balance sheet you are reviewing is important to your understanding of the association’s financial position each month.
We will dive deeper into the individual accounts like cash and receivables in future blogs. A short example of what to look forward to:
Cash – Do you know what your bank accounts are used for? Do you verify balances? Are you pursuing returns over security?
Receivables – Are you expecting to collect everything that is owed to the association? Did you bill for all services?
Payables -How much does the association owe to vendors?
Prepaid assessments – Are you shoring up today’s cash balances with money collected for future expenses?
Operating Fund (Equity) – Does the association have excess funds, has it been over-spending?
By: Tiffanie Thompson, SentryWest Insurance
The manta in the cyber world is: It’s not a question of IF an association will suffer some kind of data breach- but WHEN.
Cyber criminals are not looking for a huge payout – they want an easy target. Community Associations have two things they want: 1) personal homeowner information and 2) money. Associations are even more attractive because most lack security measures that larger corporations utilize.
Consider a few different possibilities:
By: April Ahrendsen is a Vice President with CIT, a division of First Citizens Bank
Are community associations at risk of a cyber-attack? The short answer is yes, but let me list out all the main reasons why:
Those reasons are enough of a motive for a criminal to target a community association for a cyber-attack. If a 21-year-old was able to use an unprotected router to hack one of the largest wireless carriers in the United States, then it is clearly possible for a community association to get hacked as well. The criminal who stole data on 50 million wireless customers said, “their security is awful.” Many of us may have likely had our personal information compromised through cyber-attacks and data breaches, but what would that look like for a community association? Imagine staff computers not working because they have been hacked. Bookkeepers who cannot log into online banking because their passwords have already been changed. Wire transfers showing HOA reserve funds that have already left the bank. Homeowner names, addresses, and bank account numbers all for sale on the dark web. I want to intentionally paint a scary picture because a cyber-attack is a scary situation, and if it can happen to one community association then it can happen to a lot more. It is nearly impossible to be 100% bullet proof from a cyber-attack, but my goal is to make you a smaller target through these strategies.
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