If you live in a condominium, it’s easy to think that your homeowners association will cover you in the event of a disaster. After all, it manages your lawn care and makes sure that the exterior of your building is looking great. Why wouldn’t your premium cover you if your condo burned or you were robbed?
Unfortunately, most contracts specify that associations will only cover damage to the exterior of the building. The owner is responsible for managing and maintaining everything inside of the home. If you don’t already have condo insurance, you might put yourself and your family at financial and legal risk.
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Are you thinking about investing in condo insurance but have no idea where to start? We’ve created your go-to guide on everything you need to know about condo insurance.
Quicklook: Best Condo Insurance
- Best Overall: Nationwide – Get Quotes
- Liberty Mutual – Get Quotes
- Amica Mutal – Get Quotes
- USAA – Get Quotes
- Farmers – Get Quotes
What’s Condo Insurance?
Condo insurance is a special type of insurance designed to cover the liabilities of owning a condominium. Condo insurance is more comprehensive than renters insurance. This is because, when you rent a home or apartment, your landlord is usually responsible for the inner workings of the home.
This doesn’t involve your personal property (i.e. a broken dryer, an HVAC system that quits, etc.).
Condo insurance is also less comprehensive (and by extension, less expensive) than homeowners insurance. This is because condo insurance typically does not cover damage to the exterior of the home. This type of damage is presumed to be the responsibility of the homeowners association.
If you have a condo and you’re paying for homeowners insurance, you’re probably paying for duplicate coverage, which is expensive and unnecessary. Though the best homeowners insurance policies may give you peace of mind while at home, there are tons of comprehensive condo insurance policies available.
They are often offered at a fraction of the price of homeowner’s insurance because the insurance company doesn’t need to take on the burden of insuring the exterior of the home.
Most companies offer multiple options to choose from when it comes to condo insurance. The type of insurance that you choose should be based upon your condominium association’s master policy.
The master policy is an outline that covers exactly what type of damage the homeowner’s association you pay fees to will cover in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Some of the most common types of master policies
The absolute most basic type of coverage, bare-walls policies will not cover anything besides the walls, flooring, and ceiling.
Everything else inside of the home is your responsibility in the event of an accident or burglary, regardless of whether or not the structures inside of the condo came with the home when you originally purchased it.
All-in policies are more inclusive and cover everything inside of the condo that is not considered your personal property. Fixtures, large and immovable appliances and HVAC systems are usually covered under most all-in policies. You’ll usually need a less comprehensive condo insurance policy if you have an all-in master policy.
Original specifications policies
Original specifications policies are a blend of bare-walls and all-in coverage. If you have an original specifications policy, your fixtures are covered only if they originally came with the condo when you purchased it.
For example, if there’s a fire in your condo and everything is destroyed, you can expect your master policy to cover the chandelier that was installed before you moved in but not for the washing machine and dryer set that you installed yourself after the time of purchase.
Who Needs Condo Insurance?
If you live in a condo, you’ll want to choose a condo insurance policy to complement your master policy. It’s important that you carefully read your policy before you start shopping for rental property insurance or condo insurance.
This way, you can make sure that everything you need coverage for is actually included in your policy. If you aren’t sure what’s included in your master policy, contact your homeowner’s association and request a copy.
What to Look for in a Condo Insurance Policy
In the world of insurance, something that can happen to you, your home, or your car that can cause damage is referred to as a peril. Some of the most common perils include burglaries, fires and flooding.
Most condo insurance policies include protection from a number of perils and other named liabilities.
The most basic condo insurance policies will include coverage for damage resulting from the following perils:
- Smoke and fire
- Burglary and vandalism
- Wind and hail
- Inner-home emergencies that are out of your control (like a burst pipe)
Every condo insurance policy will also include excluded perils. Some of the most common excluded perils include:
- Intentional damage and injuries
- Damage from pets, rodents, and birds
- Normal wear and tear
- Nuclear accidents
- Acts of war
If the interior of your home is damaged from a named peril, your insurance will provide compensation. Note that with condo insurance, the damage must occur to the interior of the home or an immovable appliance.
Most condo insurance does not cover personal property unless there is an add-on or it’s explicitly written into the contract. Of course, what’s covered and not covered depends heavily upon the company that issues your policy and the specifications made in your contract.
Make sure you carefully read your policy before you sign so you know what’s covered.
In addition to coverage for damage done to the interior of your condo, most condo insurance policies also include liabilityprotections. Liability coverage can help pay for court-ordered medical bills and legal representation in the event that a guest, contractor or (in some states) intruder is injured while inside your condominium.
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Add-on policies you may have the option to purchase:
Personal property insurance
Electronics, furniture, clothing, and appliances are considered your personal property and are not usually covered by standard condo insurance. Personal property insurance extends your coverage to the things you own.
Flood and earthquake insurance
Floods and earthquakes are usually excluded from standard condo insurance. If you live in an area that’s prone to either one of these natural disasters, you may be able to purchase an add-on coverage option that extends your perils list to include damage from flooding, an earthquake, or both.
Riders for additional coverage
Personal property insurance often comes with limitations on the amount that can be paid out in certain categories. For example, if you have a policy that provides you with $10,000 in coverage if a fire destroys your property, your contract may have a clause that says that only $1,000 of this coverage can be used for jewelry.
If you have something very valuable that you’d like to protect further (like an engagement ring, musical instrument, or piece of artwork), you can purchase a “rider,” which will extend your line of coverage and provide a larger payout if your treasured item is damaged or stolen.
Policies that fill in the gaps left by your HOA insurance
Your master policy should be your guide to choosing coverage. If you have a comprehensive all-in policy, you may want to search for less expensive options that cut a few protections already included with your HOA insurance.
On the other hand, if you’ve recently installed a few new fixtures or you have a basic bare-walls policy, you’ll want to look for extended coverage options.
Policies that fit your budget
While cheaper isn’t always better (especially when it comes to insurance), look for an insurance provider who works with you to get the best price possible. From bundling your auto and condo insurance together to installing a home security system to choosing a higher deductible, there are plenty of ways for you to lower your premium.
Policies that offer you great customer service options
If you’re like most people, the only time when you’ll be speaking with your insurance provider is when you’re filing a claim. Choose a policy provider that offers extended-hours claims reporting or multiple avenues of contact to make life less stressful if something goes wrong in your condo and you need to file a claim.
The Best Condominium Insurance Companies
Based on your needs, we’ve selected a few outstanding insurance providers as our top picks for condo insurance.
Best Overall: Nationwide
Nationwide’s condo insurance offerings are impressive, and their basic package includes many types of coverages that are considered add-ons by competitors. In addition to personal liability and damage to the condo’s interior, it also covers condo loss assessments. This is the fees charged by your condo surveying the damage after a fire or another natural disaster).
They also cover loss of use, which is the costs of housing if your condo is damaged to the point that it’s deemed unlivable. Nationwide even has credit card coverage for if a thief makes unauthorized purchases on your debit or credit card.
Nationwide has a number of unique add-on coverage options, ranging from water backup coverage to ID theft protection.
They are one of the country’s largest insurers, and in addition to condo insurance, also offer auto and business insurance. If you already have some form of insurance with Nationwide, bundling your condo insurance together is an easy option to save money on both of your monthly premiums.
Liberty Mutual is a home and auto insurance provider that offers condo insurance as well. You can sign up to receive a free quote online and its questionnaire takes just a few minutes to complete.
The company’s standard policy is comprehensive and coverage includes the interior of your dwelling, your personal propertyand liability insurance. Liberty Mutual also allows customers to insure high-value items (like jewelry, smartphones or computers) with riders through its online claims form.
With a focus on online compatibility and quick and responsive customer service, Liberty Mutual is a top-choice for both condo-only shoppers or if you want to bundle discounts.
Condo insurance from Amica Mutual is affordable and includes most of the coverages you can expect from other insurers. It includes interior protection, liability coverage, and even debris removal.
Amica also has a very unique dividend policy option, which covers the same perils of the standard policy but also pays you back a percentage of your premium for every month you go without a claim. Amica’s dividend policies usually cost more upfront but can also save you money in the long term.
They are a smaller insurance provider, but the company offers a wide host of discounts that can lower your premium.
In addition to the standard life and auto insurance bundling discounts, Amica offers discounts for condo owners who consent to receive bills and policy information online, owners who haven’t filed a claim in the last three years and owners who install a basic burglar alarm system.
You can even secure a discount for maintaining working fire alarms in your home.
If you’re a member of the military, Coast Guard, or armed forces, USAA offers affordable and easy-to-use condo insurance.
Its website design is simple and quick to navigate and even includes a guide on how to learn more about your master policy before you sign up for condo insurance. USAA is one of the only condo insurance providers to include acts of war in its list of covered perils.
They also waive your normal deductible if your military uniforms or equipment are damaged under a named peril for active duty or active reserve duty. USAA also offers you a number of ways to save and discounts on home security systemsthrough its partnership with ADT and Protection1.
Affordable prices and a user-friendly system makes USAA a top choice for members of the armed forces to get the condo insurance you and your family members need.
Like Nationwide and Liberty Mutual, Farmers is a major name in the insurance game. They cover most of the same perils and liabilities you can expect from a basic plan.
One great thing about Farmers is its crystal-clear claims coverage explanations. Before you sign up for a policy, Farmers takes you through a series of potential perils and lays out exactly what coverage will pay for and what it won’t.
While this may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of signing up for insurance, it can be a very helpful tool when you sign up for your first insurance policy. It gives you a safety net of knowing exactly how your policy can help you in the event of an emergency.
Choose the Best Provider For Your Condo
Just like when you’re shopping for home insurance or auto insurance, the best way to get a great deal on your condo insurance is to get as many quotes as possible before you choose a policy provider. Every insurance company uses its own unique formula to calculate premiums.
Give yourself plenty of time to shop around and gather quotes; most companies even allow you to have a quote emailed to you online in as little as a few hours, so there’s no excuse not to do your research and save as much money as possible.