Question: Can a non-board member go door to door asking neighbors to sign proxies for the Annual Meeting? The board has asked for all proxies to be returned to the Secretary.

Answer: Proxies can be given by an owner to anyone, even someone that is not a member of the HOA. It is not uncommon for attorneys and relatives to be appointed. So, yes, an owner could go door to door and ask that each owner appoint him as their representative. If this person amasses many such proxies, his voting power may by itself control elections and other votes. That said, it is not illegal.

Question: Should the members of an Architectural Restriction Committee (ARC) be board members to be protected from liability? Could an owner sue the ARC for denying a paint color request?

Answer: HOA volunteers like committee members are usually protected by Directors and Officers liability insurance as long as they are following the committee charter (job description) approved by the board. Most committees are advisory only. This means that they make recommendations to the board and the board makes the final decision. The ARC, however, can be empowered by the board to make architectural and design decisions and, thus, be a target of litigation.

Covering all HOA volunteers for liability purposes is very important. But not all Directors and Officers insurance policies are created equal. It is important to confirm with the insurance carrier exactly what the coverage includes. Ask and get written response to these questions:

Does the policy cover claims against Directors, Officers and Committee Members? If not, what types of insurance coverage can be provided that adds that extra protection?

Do the HOA's governing documents provide indemnity (HOA agrees to protect and defend) for Directors, Officers and Committee Members?

Does the policy maintain coverage for a period beyond a volunteer's term of service?

Does the policy extend coverage beyond the policy period if circumstances that might give rise to a claim are disclosed during the policy period?

Is there a deductible per occurrence?

Can the Board of Directors choose its own legal representative when defending a claim?

Does the policy cover legal costs incurred through investigations that do not result in litigation?

Is the limit of liability for a single loss, or for total losses during the policy period, set at an appropriate level considering the HOA's revenue?

Does the policy have any exclusions?

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