Unlike homeowners, condo dwellers don't own the building they live in or the land it sits on. But they do need protection for what is inside their specific unit. Buying insurance can often be more difficult and confusing for a condo than a house as you try to figure out what you're financially responsible for.
Condo insurance covers the inside of your condo while the external areas are typically covered by your homeowners association. It also protects you against liability claims if you are found to be responsible for another person's injury or property damage, or if you have legal fees due to a lawsuit.
Condo insurance typically covers what the condo association's master policy does not. A condo association master policy can be one of two types:
While a master policy covers damage to your condo building, grounds and other external features, your personal condo policy needs to cover your personal possessions, appliances and, sometimes, installed fixtures and other attached features in the unit.
If you need to make a claim (i.e. burglary or fire), you need to file with your insurance company and also contact your condo association so they can file with their insurance company. For instance, if the burglary resulted in a broken door or window, the master policy would typically cover this, depending on the deductible and your association's declarations and agreements.
In addition to protecting your possessions if they are damaged or stolen, condo insurance also protects you from liability claims and lawsuits if a guest gets injured in your home. It also covers expenses related to living elsewhere - such as a hotel - if you can't live in your condo due to damage covered by your policy. Condo insurance also provides an option to purchase the valuable loss assessment coverage, which protects you in the event you are assessed due to a covered loss. In this instance, each unit member may need to contribute funds to make up the difference. If you have loss assessment coverage, this sum may be partially or totally covered.
Cost varies, but on average coverage ranges from $150 to $400 per year. Cost is affected by where you live, the construction materials used for your condo, the value of your personal property and the amount of coverage you purchase to cover your personal property and any alterations you made to your unit.
This decision may be more complicated than buying regular home insurance because of the different types of HOA policies and regulations. First, review your condo association policy to see what type of policy they have. If it's "bare walls-in and wall studs-in", you will need to purchase more coverage to cover the interior fixtures and countertops in addition to your personal possessions.
In addition, it's important to understand what you would need to replace. Perform an inventory of all of your personal items to figure out how much it would cost to replace your belongings after an event like a burglary or a fire. Check to see if any one item in your personal property inventory exceeds the "per-item" limit. One good estimate is to assume $40,000 in personal property for the first 1,000 square feet of your condo, and then add $5,000 for each additional 500 square feet. For liability, if your assets are more than $500K, you may want to look at an umbrella policy. Don't skimp; for a little money, you can be properly protected.
How to purchase a Condo policy from Stillwater: