Ontario drivers have responsibilities when operating a vehicle.  In Ontario drivers are required to have vehicle insurance and are responsible to report accidents to the Police or at a Collision Reporting Centre when the damage is over $1000.  Collisions on private property such as the condominium are no different.  The police need to be notified if there are injures or damages in excess of $1000 or damages to private property, such as the garage door.   It’s not uncommon for vehicle owners to try and avoid calling their insurance companies, as there may be a deductible cost or a rate increase.

Sometimes determining who is at fault is straight forward but sometimes it may not be so black and white.  When it comes to insurance we have all heard the terms no-fault or at-fault.  We commonly think of these when two vehicles are in an accident.  What you may not be familiar with are conditions in the corporation’s declaration preventing or limiting the ability of a unit owner from obtaining compensation from the corporation or its directors.  Most declarations contain indemnification clauses or waivers of subrogation.  What is subrogation? Subrogation in simplified terms allows insurance companies to recoup accident costs from the at-fault insurer.  Several condominium declarations include a “waiver of subrogation”.  A waiver of subrogation is essentially an agreement that prevents the insurance company from acting on your behalf to recoup expenses from the at-fault party.

In real life, several door collisions happen when a door is starting to retract and a vehicle enters.  As the vehicle enters the door continues on the down cycle hitting the windshield or top of the vehicle.  The door starts to go back up after the vehicle crosses the photo eye (invisible beam at the entrance).  Most of the time the door is not damaged, but it may not be so good for the vehicle windshield and paint job.  In this scenario the vehicle owner could pay out of pocket to repair their vehicle or contact their insurance company.  Vehicle owners are to contact their vehicle insurance providers when an accident occurs, however, many times the drivers do not want to make a claim.  Instead they often go the management office at the building and request compensation.

Mark Shedden, President of Atrens-Counsel Insurance Brokers assists his clients and Property Managers in navigating the insurance process.  When asked about this subject he offered the following information.

“The policy that covers the property that is damaged is called the Primary Policy and must be the first to respond. Damage to the door goes to the Corporation insurer, damage to the car goes to the automobile policy covering the damaged vehicle. “    Mark Shedden

What we Suggest

Our first recommendation is to document the event with an incident report and to obtain any other items which may help identify if the door failed or if it was driver error.  You can gather video tapes, garage/fob transmitter reports, security guard reports, and so on.  It is also recommended at the time of the accident or when reported that the door be inspected by the door contractor, and a report be prepared.  You may also want to attach the last service call report from the door contractor as proof of the last service date.  The next step would be to advise the vehicle owner that they may be required to contact their insurance company if there are significant damages to the vehicle or the door.  You should then contact your insurance broker to ask for their assistance.  The broker will be able to navigate through the events and the next best steps, such as starting a file just in case the driver decides to make a claim. Sometimes corporations have clear video tapes showing the driver at fault and will chargeback any garage door damage costs to the unit owner.   The ability and amount the corporation can chargeback will depend upon the corporation declaration and by-laws.  Next would be to assess the area to identify if future accidents could be minimized by adding lighting, mirrors, speed bumps, traffic signals, or proximity sensors.

Navigating a claim can be difficult, so it is very important to seek the advice from your property manager and insurance provider.  Having managed several properties for over 40 years, Malvern has seen its share of incidents.  For this reason Malvern developed a standard reporting form referred to as an incident report, which our Property Managers are trained to complete.  These documents have been successfully relied upon to get our clients back on track after damages occur.  Maybe in the future someone will invent a door that keeps out the cold, secures the garage, and never breaks down.  Until then keep a couple of extra incident reports handy.