Buying a condominium can be a smart start to being a homebuyer, without many of the maintenance hassles of owning a detached home.
Insurance through the homeowner association, or HOA, covers some areas of the complex, though each homeowner must have their own insurance to cover certain parts of their property and their belongings.
Here’s a breakdown of how condo insurance works:
Group insurance: Condo association insurance usually covers common areas, such as a pool, lawn and building exteriors.
This insurance is called the “master policy” and doesn’t include what’s inside your condo unit — such as a break-in, water damage to your kitchen walls, or someone slipping on your wet bathroom floor.
Condo unit insurance: Everything inside the walls, such as the plumbing and electrical wiring, is covered by your individual insurance policy, though some master policies may cover from the paint on the inside of your unit to the outside walls.
An individual homeowner’s insurance policy will also cover your belongings that you keep inside your condo, along with any fixtures or improvements you make to your unit.
When valuing your possessions, consider the replacement cost in today’s dollars for new items, not what they originally cost. Some policies only reimburse for actual cash value, which is the depreciated value, and not the total replacement costs.
Insurance coverage for personal belongings and the physical building typically range from $25,000 to $100,000, with premiums at $400 to $600 per year. Owning artwork or other collectibles could require additional coverage.
Liability coverage included in condo insurance will typically cost $20 a year for $300,000 in liability coverage.
Loss-assessment insurance: This covers insurance expenses not covered by the condo association, or in excess of the group coverage. You may need it if the condo association insurance doesn’t cover a major repair and the HOA doesn’t have enough money to pay for the repair. Instead of paying extra for the fixes, your loss-assessment coverage would cover you.
Loss of use: This type of insurance pays for a place for you to stay if your unit is totaled or severely damaged by a tornado or some other disaster. Coverage may be limited to a dollar value or your actual costs for a specified time.
When determining how much insurance you need for your condo, start with your condo associations’ master policy and then fill in the holes from there. This real estate information will help ensure your investment and your belongings are well protected.