In the case of an earthquake damaging individual condo units, how is the “origin” of the damage established?

The by-laws only cover 2 options, the origin must be either the unit or the common elements. Since the individual units are built on top of the garages (common elements), could it be argued that the common elements were the origin since the ground (which is also a common element) shook and caused damage inside the units. What happens if neither the unit nor the common elements are declared as the origin (i.e. act of God)?

Asked on October 17, 2011 under Insurance Law, Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Okay let's start from the beginning.  An Act of God is a term used in the insurance world to signify natural disasters.  And you are correct in your back door conclusion here that natural disasters are generally excluded from coverage under insurance policies, which is generally why you see the Federal Government jump in with disaster aid.  Without being able to read the policy and paperwork you refer to I am fairly certain that IF there was an earthquake and that caused damage to the garage and then to the condos above, the earthquake would be considered the origin here. The structural soundness of the garage may not have an bearing in this set of facts.  Good luck. 

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