Condominium Owners Insurance: The Basics

Your condominium is your home, from those mounted shelves you fought with for three hours to the trinkets and pictures you’ve placed on them. But your insurance needs as a condo owner are unique. The right condo insurance will guarantee your possessions, the additions you’ve made to your place and your condo unit are protected.

Condominium Owners Insurance: The Basics
Condominium Owners Insurance: The Basics

Your Co-op’s Policy

Your condo or co-op board likely has insurance on the entire building. A master policy usually covers liability and physical damage to the lobby, basement and hallways. However, some condominium associations don’t have insurance policies, in which case the tenants will be charged for any damage to the common areas.

Your Policy

Your policy covers your possessions; additions such as cabinets, light fixtures, appliances and shelves; and living expenses, should your condo get damaged by a disaster covered in your policy.

Liability protection covers against injuries that occur on your property and damages caused by your property. Think: your child’s friend slamming his or her fingers in your sliding glass door or your toilet overflowing and causing damage to a neighbor’s unit.

Things to Ask About

Are Any Structures In Your Home Covered By Your Condo/Co-op Association?

Find out exactly what is covered in the master policy. Some associations insure the entire unit as it was originally built-excluding any additions or renovations made by you or previous owners. Other associations only insure the bare walls, floors and ceilings. This means you are responsible for plumbing and wiring. If the master policy only covers common areas, it’s your responsibility to insure the interior of your unit.

Will You Be Reimbursed For A Unit Assessment?

First, what is a unit assessment? If any damage occurs to an insured, common area, the condo owners are sometimes charged a fee for repairs. (If there is no master policy, you will be charged for the damages in their entirety.) If your condo association charges a fee for repairs to common areas and you want your insurance to cover that, you should get a unit assessment rider.*

Are You Protected Against Water Damage?

If the sewers or drains back up, will you be covered? Some policies protect against water damage while others do not. Make sure to check and see if you’ve got it. If you don’t, it’s usually just an extra five dollars a year to add it.

Do You Need Additional Personal Property Coverage?

Most home policies cover your expensive possessions up to around $2,000. If you’d like to insure them for their appraised value, you need to purchase a floater.** The coverage usually pays if you lose that item as well. There is no deductible.

Do You Need Flood Or Earthquake Insurance?

If you live in an area prone to those types of natural disasters, you should spring for the additional coverage. Standard homeowners’ policies don’t cover floods or earthquakes, but you can purchase both separately through your insurance agent. Flood and earthquake insurance are slightly different than coverage for other disasters. For example, earthquake insurance has a different type of deductible-a percentage of coverage instead of a dollar amount. Talk to your insurer and get the specifics before you spend money on those extras.

Are You Eligible For Any Discounts?

If you’re shopping for condo insurance, you’re aware how expensive it can be. You may be able to lessen the financial burden by raising your deductible or installing safety fire and anti-theft devices. If you insure with the same company your condo/co-op association has their master policy with, you may also pay a lower premium.

You life lies within those condo walls, so make sure you protect your home and possessions with the right condo insurance.

*A rider is something you add to your basic condo insurance policy for more protection.

**A floater is an addition to a policy to cover personal valuables.

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