Con-DO or Con-DON’T – Condo Insurance Breakdown

There are some advantages to condominium living. One, people feel, is that the association handles insurance so they skip the hassle of having to arrange their own coverage.  While that’s true to some degree, as with most things in life, it’s more complicated than it appears. There are traps for the unwary. To know what the association is going to take care of you need a copy of the by-laws and the master deed. These documents should be made available to your insurance advisors in order that they may design your coverage to coordinate with the “master policy”.

Questions to ask yourself when determining what kind of coverage you need:

  • Will the master policy cover the parts of the unit that you own? – Many associations are obligated to purchase property insurance that covers all building elements including those owned by an individual.  Others are not and the master policy covers only commonly owned elements of buildings.  The master deed identifies commonly owned elements and delineates the boundaries of individually owned units.  The by-laws indicate the association’s obligation.
  • What deductible has been chosen for the master policy? – If damage occurs in your unit only there is little doubt you will be responsible for the deductible even if the master policy provides coverage.  Many associations choose higher deductibles than an individual would be comfortable with in order to keep condo fees low.
  • Who will provide coverage if you improve your unit by adding higher end cabinetry, counter tops or other enhancements? – The master deed and by-laws will answer this question.
  • What is your exposure for assessments due to uncovered or inadequately covered damage to common elements or high deductibles?
  • Is your investment protected in the event of a total loss? – Again, look to the master deed and by-laws as well as the limit available under the master policy.
  • What will you need to adequately cover your personal property and your personal liability exposures? – Of course, the association will not provide any protection in these areas.  They are usually handled with a Condominium Unit Owners Policy.
  • Is the master policy written on a specialized condominium form? – Forms and endorsements have been developed for condominiums that recognize the special relationship of unit owners and the association in relation to the insurer.  These forms are important in reducing the exposures of individual unit owners.

Don’t assume. Whatever you do, don’t assume that your condo association has you covered. Do some research, get answers and get peace of mind.