Condo Apartment Insuranace
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What is condo insurance?
Like a home, typically, your condominium is your most valuable possession, as are your often priceless personal belongings. Like standard homeowners insurance, condominium insurance can protect you from financial hardship if your condo and its contents are damaged. Additionally, condominium insurance protects from claims by others who may be injured in your condo.
Purchasing a condo insurance policy is a relatively modest investment that can help complete your overall insurance plan and provide affordable and abundant peace of mind.
Condo insurance is coverage that helps protect against losses and repair costs for a condominium unit. Condo insurance often provides protection for theft, vandalism, fire damage, water damage, and more.
Condos are a great alternative to renting an apartment or owning a single-family home and they have their own unique insurance needs. But if we may be so bold, after years of dealing with a little, talking green guy, we know a thing or two about "unique."
Why do I need condo insurance?
The articles of the condominium association and state law determine exactly what's covered under the association's master insurance policy.
In most cases the association's coverage stops after the exterior walls meaning that you are responsible for the interior walls and possibly for fixtures, as well as your personal property and liability. This is where your own personal condo policy would come in. Most policies will include coverage for losses arising from:
- Fire or Lightning
- Vandalism or Malicious Mischief
- Accidental Discharge of Water
What is Condo (HO6) Insurance? What Does it Cover?
Also known as an HO-6 insurance policy, condo insurance protects condo units while also providing both personal liability coverage and living expense coverage if a condo becomes uninhabitable.
HO-6 policies are also called walls-in coverage because they protect your individual unit, while your condo association's master policy covers the building's common areas.
As with homeowners insurance, mortgage lenders generally require you to purchase condo insurance to protect their financial interest during the length of your loan.
Even if you’ve paid off your mortgage or purchased the property outright, you might still be on the hook for condo insurance because many HOAs require it.
Condo insurance covers what your HOA won’t, like repairing the inside of your unit after disasters, replacing damaged or stolen belongings and paying liability costs if guests are injured there.
HO-6 insurance is another name for condo insurance. The term refers to one of several home insurance policy forms used industrywide. For example, most homeowners are insured with HO-3 policies, while renters have HO-4 policies.
What is covered by the condo association insurance policy?
Typically, all common areas in a condominium building are covered under a "master insurance policy" purchased by the condo association or homeowners association (HOA) unless stated otherwise by the bylaws. This includes not only the building's roof and exterior but also internal areas such as elevators and hallways.
The cost of the master policy is shared by all unit owners, usually in the form of recurring condo or HOA fees. There are three main types of condo master insurance policies:
Bare walls coverage is a limited master insurance policy that covers the structure, as well as most fixtures and furnishings in common areas. It also covers any property that is collectively owned by the condo association.
Single entity coverage offers everything included in bare walls coverage and also provides coverage for built-in property such as fixtures in individual condo units.
All-in coverage applies to all property collectively owned by the condo association or which is part of the condominium structure. It's the most comprehensive condo master insurance policy, covering all condo improvements and additions.
The type of master insurance policy your HOA or condo association has will directly impact the amount of condo insurance you'd need to purchase. You should ask the association for a copy of its declaration page, which details the policy and what it covers.
Condo associations may also have other forms of commercial insurance, such as a fidelity insurance policy to cover issues with employee dishonesty, but they don't typically relate to your own insurance needs as a condo unit owner.
What does condo insurance cover?
A typical condo insurance policy provides coverage for the following categories:
- Building property: the unit itself, including walls and fixtures.
- Personal property: furniture, electronics and other movable goods.
- Personal liability: legal expenses from claims or lawsuits against you.
- Loss of use: costs of lodging/transport if unit is uninhabitable
- Loss assessment: your portion of any losses shared out by the association.
What does condo insurance cover?
HO-6 policies cover the same types of perils as homeowners policies, such as fire, windstorms, hail, explosions and theft. Typically, condo insurance policies include four or five types of coverage:
- Building property: This protects the interior of your condo, including damage to elements like sheetrock and flooring.
- Personal liability: Personal liability coverage helps cover damages to an injured person and legal fees if someone sues you over an incident that occurs in your condominium, including attorney fees, court costs and a court settlement.
- Personal property: This helps pay to replace personal belongings, such as furniture, clothing and electronics, if a covered peril, like a fallen tree, damages them.
- Guest medical payments: When a guest sustains an injury in your condo, guest medical payments coverage can help pay the medical bills, such as the emergency room fee, doctor bill and rehabilitation costs.
- Loss of use: When a covered loss requires you to move out of your condo temporarily, your loss of use coverage can help pay accommodation and meals costs. If included in your policy, loss of use coverage usually pays the difference between your normal expenses and relocation costs.
It is important to know whether your policy covers the actual cash value or replacement cost of the items damaged by a covered peril. Typically a condo policy provides coverage for the replacement cost of damaged items and the cost to repair damaged interior structure elements or offers the option to acquire this level of protection.
Replacement cost coverage is the broader protection as it pays the entire amount necessary to replace items. On the other hand, actual cash value only pays the depreciated value since the original purchase.
Inclusions and exclusions
While most condo insurance policies include the coverage listed above, there are typically specific exclusions from standard coverage. Although separate policies and riders can often be purchased to offer the necessary coverage, standard condo insurance policies typically exclude:
- Earthquake and flood insurance
- Outdated systems or equipment that need to be brought up to code
- Damage from leaks or sewer backup
To provide the most protection, you may want to consider these additional coverage options:
- Unit assessment coverage – If the HOA charges an additional assessment to condo owners to pay for a covered loss, this add-on can cover a condo owner’s share of the assessment.
- Umbrella policy – This coverage can increase your overall limit of liability protection.
- Additional coverage for itemized expensive items such as jewelry, furs, art, fine wine or collectibles. This is often referred to as a “floater”.
HOA insurance vs. condo insurance
HOA insurance includes two types of coverages, liability and property. The liability coverage of a master policy can help pay medical costs and legal expenses if someone sustains an injury in a common area, like a clubhouse, lobby or swimming pool, but does not cover injuries sustained by guests within the walls of your condominium.
Condo management can choose between three types of property coverage:
- All-in: All-in coverage provides the most protection for unit owners, as it covers the condo’s structure and any shared property. Additionally, it typically covers improvements you have made to your condo, like custom tile and wall coverings.
- Bare walls: This type of coverage provides the least protection for unit owners, as it only covers common areas and the building structure and its systems, like electrical wiring and plumbing. Your condo’s interior is not included.
- Single entity: Single entity coverage provides slightly more protection than a bare walls policy. It covers the building structure and systems, along with built-in features within units, like kitchen cabinets and recessed bookcases.
Before purchasing an HO-6 condo policy, it helps to know how much coverage the HOA policy already provides. If your complex carries an all-in policy, you may not need to carry much dwelling coverage. However, HOA policy exclusions are also important. For example, a master policy may cover the interior structure of your condo, but exclude non-standard fixtures that you add, like expensive imported tile or a custom stained-glass window.
Even similar losses are likely to result in different coverages. Here are a few examples of how HOA and HO-6 policies cover losses:
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