A "no thanks" doesn't guarantee the property manager will back down. Continental offered its insurance service several times to a condo association in central Broward County, based on three notes from company representatives and a letter from the preferred insurance agent.
"I cannot tell you how many times Continental tried to persuade me to change insurance agents," said the condo association's board president, who said she does not want to be identified until her building finds a new property manager.
She said her decision was partly based on a bad experience with another Continental affiliate whose employee repeatedly showed up after hours for projects and then tried to bill for overtime.
Several board members said Continental representatives offered them tickets to sporting events.
State law prohibits board members and property managers from accepting anything of value from people providing or proposing to provide services to the association.
Continental executives said it's against company policy to give gifts to condo board members and that's reviewed during employee training.
"We don't promote that so I have no knowledge of any of property managers offering tickets," said Tim O'Keefe, the chief executive officer of Continental. He added that the company does not have box seats to sporting events.
Several condo board members said they're pleased with Continental and don't mind the commission-sharing arrangements.
Larry Rosenberg, board president of Delray Grande Condominium Association in Delray Beach, said he didn't know the roughly $10,000 annual insurance commission his building pays is split up between Continental's affiliate and Smith Watson Parker.
But he said the board probably would have gone with the insurance agency anyway because its price was so much lower than others. "I don't think it would have changed" anything, Rosenberg said. "It was a no-brainer We did our homework."
Some insurance agents say they've chosen not to participate in commission-sharing. "We don't think they're legal..We don't practice that because it's rebating of insurance," said Tom Lynch, president of Plastridge Insurance Agency and a board member for state-backed Citizens Property Insurance.
Representatives of Smith Watson Parker said other agents criticize the agreements because they're forced to compete.
"We get an introduction that we might not otherwise get. That's what we feel we're paying for We don't get any special information or any special treatment," said Andrew Spargo, the agency's chief operating officer.
Like other property management companies, Continental and its publicly traded parent company, FirstService Corp., own several subsidiaries that may be recommended by property managers when condo boards are looking to hire electricians, plumbers and gardeners.
State law requires property managers to disclose to condos they manage if they have a financial interest in vendors, but it does not bar them from applying for the work, said Alexis Lambert, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Business & Professional Regulation, which regulates businesses and condos.