Smashing apartment claim

Danny asks:
(updated on Wednesday, July 30th 2014)

Our apartment butts up to a high rise apartment in Auckland. The wind has blown a table along a balcony, smashing it into the glass balustrade causing it to dislodge and fall a number of floors to hit the top of our roof. As a result the roof was damaged and water started coming in. I have contacted the building manager who said to claim on my insurance or take it up with the owner of the other apartment.

Our Experts Answer:

As insurance companies always expect us to “act as if we were not insured” and take any necessary action to prevent or minimise further loss, repairing the roof (even if a temporary fix) to prevent more water getting in must be the first priority.
There is nothing to stop you approaching the owner of the other apartment and asking if they are willing to pay for or contribute to your roof repairs. Or you can simply lodge a claim under your own home insurance policy. If your apartment is on a body corporate (BC) title, you will need to contact the BC secretary and they will need to claim under the commercial BC policy.
If a claim is accepted, the insurer will decide if there are grounds to pursue recovery of their costs (and the policy excess) from the owner of the other apartment. Providing those contact details to your insurer will be helpful. For recovery to be successful the insurer needs to prove the other owner has been negligent in a way which caused the loss. It could be difficult to prove negligence, as the original cause of the loss was the wind blowing the table into the glass balustrade and could be classed as an “act of god”. An example of when the other owner might possibly be considered negligent could be if the glass balustrade was known to be broken before the windstorm and had not been fixed in a reasonable timeframe. If recovery is successful, the policy excess will be reimbursed and there should not be any loss of claims free discount.

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