Updated: May 2016
Part of the appeal of owning a condominium is that, unlike a home, the condo owner is likely not solely responsible for maintaining everything inside and out. Typically, the condo association oversees the management of the day-to-day maintenance of the building's structure and other shared spaces on its property.
That's not to say you're without any responsibilities as a condo owner. Take insurance, for instance. While the association likely has a "master policy" to help protect the building against certain risks, it typically doesn't safeguard the interior of your place. You'll likely need your own insurance to do that.
Here's some general information about what an association's insurance policy may include, so you can take steps to help protect your own condo and your possessions inside.
A condo association's insurance policy typically comes with a couple of basic coverages.
Liability protection may help cover legal or medical costs if the association is hit with a lawsuit — for example, if someone were to sustain an injury from slipping and falling in a common area maintained by your association.
Then there's property coverage, which helps provide protection against covered perils for the common areas of the building that you share with all the other residents, like the roof, elevator, basement, courtyards or walkways.
The association's policy, however, may or may not extend to the inside of your unit. And its coverage could be dependent on your state's laws. The Insurance Information Institute (III) says in some cases, the association's insurance may help protect the bare walls, floors and ceiling of your condo. You would then be responsible for covering things like kitchen cabinets, appliances, bathroom fixtures, and any plumbing and wiring in your unit with your own insurance policy.
Other times, the association's coverage may help protect your condo as it was built, including fixtures such as the original tub and appliances, according to the III. In this case, you would likely be responsible for the cost of replacing any upgrades in your unit.
The only way to really know which structural parts of your condo are covered by the association is to read its bylaws to learn what parts of your home are covered by the master insurance policy
Condo policies may include the following coverages, according to the III:
- Protection for your personal belongings against covered losses
- Coverage for damage to the interior of your unit resulting from certain causes
- Additional living expenses if you're the victim of a fire or another disaster covered by your policy. (This coverage is usually available only if the covered loss makes your condo unfit for living.)
- Liability protection to help protect you if you're sued or if you are found at fault after someone has an accident in your unit
You may also want to ask about what other coverages your policy may include. For instance, loss assessment coverage may reimburse you for your portion of a bill split among all condo owners for a covered loss, such as a fire in your building's lobby, the III says.
So, while you may not be shoveling the driveway or mowing the lawn as a condo owner, you still want to take the right steps to protect yourself and your investment in your place.