Water damage claims can be very expensive to deal with, cause untold frustrations and have the potential for a living nightmare within your HOA complex. While you cannot prevent every possible situation where water can cause damage; here's a list of simple steps every association can take to reduce/eliminate many causes of water damage issues.
Washing machine hoses. If your complex has a central laundry room or laundry rooms within the individual units check the hoses that connect the machine to cold/hot water. If the hoses are rubber (either black or gray) consider changing them as soon as possible to metal-braided (sometimes called "no-bust" hoses) hoses. The rubber hoses only have a useful life of between 2-5 years; beyond that it is only a matter of time before they fail causing a water gushing flood. Without a doubt the situation is easier to remedy if the complex has a central laundry room; the Board can just decide to make the expenditure and have old hoses replaced. It is a little more tricky if the laundry rooms are within each condo/town home. In this situation it is in the best interests of not only the unit owner, but also everyone in the complex to not have a massive flood caused by a broken washing machine hose. A little creativity may come into play here; perhaps offering a financial incentive or obtaining special pricing from a bulk purchase at a local hardware store may help motivate homeowners.
Plumbing connectors under sinks or to toilets. Take a look at these connectors; sometimes they made with lesser quality connectors like plastic or rubber tubing. Upgrade these to metal connectors if you don't already have them; make sure you use a competent, licensed plumber to do the job. As these connectors will be with the individual condo/town home units, same process as above for motivating homeowners to spend the money to get it done.
Sink/toilet back-ups. It's not a bad idea to have a competent, licensed plumber check/clean-out drain pipe systems periodically for the complex. When you think about all that should not be flushed down the toilet, put down a garbage disposal or allowed to drain into a sink you can only assume that a lot of pipe clogging is going on in a complex. Perhaps this could be a cost built into the annual maintenance budget; it should definitely be a newsletter topic to educate unit owners about what gets put down plumbing fixtures.
Landscape sprinklers. Need to be periodically checked for broken sprinkler heads and where water is being sprayed. The same would be true for rain gutters that either leak, overflow or deposit runoff in an incorrect manner. You should have a process to report sprinklers that are problematic.
In these difficult economic times "an ounce of prevention" should still be the philosophy of the Board to reduce the chances of a catastrophic problem in the future.