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September/October 2021


Risky Business

By Kiara Candelaria

©2021 Community Associations Institute​​​​​​​

Karen O'Connor Corrigan LISA ADAMS 

​KAREN O'CONNOR CORRIGAN, CIRMS, has been involved in the field of community association insurance and risk management for more than 35 years. She started her career in the claim department of a Midwest insurer before joining O'Connor Insurance, which was founded by her father, Robert O'Connor, in 1985. Now president and owner of the St. Louis-based company, Corrigan holds a Certified Insurance Counselor credential from the National Alliance and is one of the few individuals in Missouri to hold a Community Insurance and Risk Management Specialist (CIRMS) designation from CAI. She has served two terms as president of the CAI Heartland Chapter and currently volunteers on the chapter's program and tradeshow committees. She also is a member of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, serving as chair of its technical affairs committee, and a member of the coverage advisory committee of the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents, which presented Corrigan with the Insurance Person of the Year Award in 2020. —Interview by Kiara Candelaria

How has community association insurance and risk management evolved since the 1980s?

It was all very self-taught when we began to develop expertise in this area. Large claims hadn't happened yet, case law wasn't there, and there were no professional designations. One of the things was coordinating a unit owner's personal policy with the association's master policy. That has evolved into actual claim rules that boards can adopt to manage their risk.

What are some of the unique aspects of the field?

It's important to understand adequate insurance limits following the full insurable amount that is in the governing documents. Also know that some directors and officers insurance coverage isn't designed for community associations and may exclude nonmonetary claims regarding elections, budgets, or amendments that may have been handled improperly.​



How do you address emerging insurance trends with boards and community managers?

Education is essential. Boards and managers must be more concerned about cyber liability, fraudulent funds transfer, and fraudulent impersonation because they could be held responsible if residents' personally identifiable information is exposed online. It's important for communities to know that they may have those exposures.

How can community leaders know if they have the proper coverage?

They should align themselves with the right insurance professional. I would recommend a CIRMS because they have at least five years of experience in this field. Insurance protects most families' greatest asset: their home. If the insurance of a building or of the association is lacking, the owners can lose everything or be left to pay out of pocket.

What do you enjoy most about working with community associations?

Helping them prevent a crisis and being reachable when one unfortunately occurs. We have to be there at the time of a fire, for example, and talk to owners who cannot go in their units, get them situated and in touch with their personal insurance, and work closely with the association to make sure the building is whole again. 


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