What You Should Know About Condo Insurance
If you live in a condominium or strata, you already have insurance coverage you pay for as part of your condo fees to cover the common areas, the actual building and the surrounding grounds. This insurance is purchased and managed by your condo corporation administrators. Your personal condo policy will cover what’s missing: your property, liability and improvements.
What does your condo corporation policy cover?
If you haven’t already, make sure you thoroughly review your condo corporation policy. It may not be easy reading, but it is important to understand where that coverage ends and where your individual coverage should begin.
Most condo corporation policies cover all the common areas and the building structure, including fixtures and some unit additions and improvements, the ones that were made by the contractor. You will still need to purchase a policy to cover your personal property and any improvements you or the previous owners have made.
Some condo corporation policies are more restrictive in their coverage than normal, especially if there have been a lot of claims in past years. This is usually a temporary measure enforced by the current insurer or a tactic to save on insurance in order to lower condo fees for all corporation members.
While home insurance policies differ from one insurer to the next, they will be pretty similar and have nearly identical coverage limits and exclusions, save for luxury property insurers like Chubb that offer a lot more, at a comparably higher premium.
You can decide on the extent of coverage you want, but for the few dollars you stand to save over the course of a year, comprehensive coverage is the way to go. Its “all-perils” coverage means worry-free coverage for you if something goes wrong.
All-perils refers to any situation that isn’t specifically excluded. That means damage to your property and improvements caused by a variety of catastrophes and incidents:
- Theft and vandalism
- Fire and smoke damage
- Frozen or burst pipes and water damage (dishwashers…)
- Most weather-related damage (with some exceptions, like hurricanes)
Note that flood, earthquake and sinkhole damage is not listed and may not be covered by many condo insurance policies. If you want to be protected in case of a flood, earthquake or sinkhole, talk to your insurance broker.
Condo coverage basics
Your personal belongings are covered at their replacement cost in most cases, meaning they will be replaced by items of equal quality and value that are brand new if they cannot be repaired. Some policies do not offer replacement cost coverage, so beware.
You do need to evaluate the value of all your personal belongings, however, and store an inventory in a secure off-site location. A rule of thumb to determine how much coverage you need is five grand per room. Certain items have fixed limits of coverage, such as collectibles, sporting goods, furs… Read your policy carefully to make sure those amounts are enough or ask your broker about extending the coverage limits.
Note that upgrades you have made to your unit are not automatically covered in certain policies, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to look into if you’ve spent a lot of money on renovating and improving your unit.
A condo owner policy is also essential because it protects you and your family from liability claims. These can occur if someone is injured in your unit or if their property is damaged. That also extends to damage you may have caused to someone’s property in an adjoining unit as a result of negligence, such as water damage in the unit below yours.
Coverage generally ranges from $500,000 to $2,000,000, and most often more is better if you can afford it.
Coverage options for your condo policy
Language is everything, so make sure you’re clear on what your condo owner insurance policy covers and what your condo corporation policy covers. Then create a policy that covers the gaps.
Extends broad coverage across your condo and auto policies for even more protection.
Works to protect you against any claims or lawsuits made against the corporation for having insufficient insurance coverage. Check the coverage terms and limits in your condo corporation policy to see if these options are right for you.
Loss of use
If your condo is uninhabitable because of damage from a covered incident (like a fire), loss of use coverage helps to reimburse your cost to live elsewhere.
If sewage backs up from the pipes and into your condo, you’ll need sewage backup.
If water flows into your condo, you’ll need flood insurance. Keep in mind that most floods happen outside of flood zones.
If the earth moves and causes damage to your condo, you’ll need earthquake insurance.
Loss assessment coverage
Loss assessment coverage will help you pay for covered condo association-related incidents that occur in common areas. If the claim exceeds the condo corporation’s policy limits, the condo owners might end up paying the difference as a special assessment.
Reach out for a coverage review
Choosing how much coverage you need can be difficult. Your insurance broker can help you create a condo policy that protects what’s most important to you.
Connect with one of our experts to learn more about how we can help with your condo insurance.
This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.
Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.
Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2021 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.