Owners of condominiums (either apartments or townhomes) have unique insurance needs that are slightly different than the standard homeowner. Since they don’t generally own the exterior dwelling, just a legal entitlement to a unit in the strata plan, their strata fees will cover any losses to the building. But that doesn’t mean that condo unit owners should skip purchasing insurance coverage! What happens if there is a major loss and you need to live temporarily away from home while it’s repaired? Do you have enough emergency funds set aside to cover temporary accommodations? Also don’t forget that you’ll need to continue making your regular mortgage payments in that type of situation. Also, if there is damage to part of your unit that originated within your unit (regardless of the cause), the current legal precedent supports the strata levying an assessment against the unit owner. This could mean paying thousands of dollars out of your pocket for something you had no control over (a common example of this is water damage from a burst pipe, hot water tank, or dishwasher connection). That’s why you should make sure you’re protected with condominium unit owners insurance.
How much insurance is enough?
The premiums and rates for condo insurance are based on the amount of coverage needed if you had a total loss of your personal belongings. It can be helpful to do an inventory of the belongings you would need replaced. Keep in mind that the coverage provides replacement cost and you should use the cost of new items, of similar kind and quality, when adding things up.
If you’ve purchased an older condo where you or the previous owners have completed renovations, you’ll also want to review your limit for unit betterments and improvements. Under the strata’s insurance policy, any damage will be repaired to the original building specifications of the strata unit. Any changes to flooring, cabinet upgrades, or other features that were not present in the original design of your unit need to be covered under your own condo insurance policy. Standard package policies will automatically provide an amount equal to your contents limit for any betterments and improvements in your unit. If you know that this limit would be inadequate, you can request a higher limit for an additional premium.
A Condominium Unit Owner’s policy can also be modified to add optional coverages or extend coverage beyond the normal limits of your policy. Some examples of these extensions and additions are as follows:
- Earthquake coverage
- Higher liability limits ($1,000,000 is standard)
- Scheduled items such as jewelery or fine arts
- Small business coverage if you operate a business out of your own home
- Coverage for watercraft or recreational vehicles
- Additional limits for loss assessment (or the deductible portion of a loss assessment)
Have more general questions? Feel free to fill out our contact form and we’d be happy to respond to your general questions and possibly update our site to be more useful to yourself and our other customers in the future. Want a quote or more information about your current condo policy with our office? Please feel free to phone or stop by one of our offices if you’d like to speak to someone who will be able to address your specific questions and concerns.