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If you own a condominium, you’ll need to buy insurance to protect your home and yourself. Before you purchase a condo insurance policy, there are some things you’ll want to know:

Things I need to know as a condo owner

When you purchase a condo, some things are covered by the condo corporation’s insurance. These include the common areas such as elevators and lobby, as well as the building itself. The corporation’s insurance will also likely have coverage for certain parts of your unit that were there when the building was first constructed. However, the condo corporation’s insurance doesn’t cover everything.

What is condo insurance? And do I need it?

Condo insurance protects your personal property and any renovations you’ve made to your unit. If you choose to do any work, you’ll be covered by the unit Improvements and betterments aspect of your policy. This is a standard coverage with condo insurance. If something happens to a part of the condo you renovated or installed, this coverage applies, up to a specified amount.

If you do make any upgrades to your unit, be sure to tell your insurance company. It needs to know in order for you to be fully covered. You should also keep a record of any upgrades or renovations in a safe place as proof that you did them.

As with home insurance, you also require liability coverage if you’re a condo owner. Should you be responsible for damage to someone else’s property (for example, a neighbouring unit) or cause an injury to someone in your condo (perhaps a slip and fall), condo liability coverage will protect you against claims up to a specified amount.

When you own a condo, you obviously own your particular unit. But you also own a share of the building and property itself. So while every condo owner owns a part of the building for themselves, they all own a slice of the common areas, for instance. Through the condo corporation, all the owners bear joint responsibility if the building’s liable for injury or damage. Say, for example, a visitor takes a fall in the parking lot. The condo corporation’s insurance would then kick in. But what if the corporation’s insurance is insufficient to cover a claim?

For this reason, condo insurance for individuals comes with what’s known as loss assessment coverage. In the event that the condo corporation doesn’t have enough insurance, contingent coverage kicks in for a policyholder so they don’t have to pay out of pocket for their share of a claim against all the owners.

A related part of condo insurance policies is something known as contingent coverage. This applies if there’s damage to the original parts of your own unit (walls, floors, plumbing, fixtures) but where either the condo corporation has no coverage or its insurance is insufficient.

It’s possible you may have to leave the unit for some time. If this happens, your condo insurance policy provides for what’s known as compensation for additional living expenses. This coverage applies in one of three scenarios:

  • If you have to move out of your unit because of damage that’s covered under your policy. If this happens, you’re entitled to claim living expenses incurred while out of your condo.
  • If you have to move out of your unit because of damage to a neighbouring unit or building and the fire or police say you can’t live in your unit for a certain period of time. Like the first example, you’re also allowed to claim living expenses while not in your building.
  • If someone who’s renting your unit has to move out because of damage to the condo that’s covered by your policy. In this event, your insurance will compensate you for lost rent.

Do insurers require a credit check?

While not mandatory, insurance companies like to do credit checks before selling insurance to a condo owner. This is because insurers see a relationship between someone’s credit rating and the likelihood that they’ll make a claim. If you have a good credit rating, you might receive a discount on your premiums as the insurer won’t expect too many claims on the policy.

Where am I not covered with my condo insurance?

Condo insurance doesn’t cover all instances where your unit is damaged. Here’s are some instances where you’re generally not eligible to file a claim:

  • General wear and tear
  • Water damage as a result of a flood
  • Any act considered intentional or criminal
  • Damage to your unit caused by rodents or termites
  • Freezing of indoor plumbing leading to damage
  • Damage to the unit as a result of earth movement, such as a landslide
  • Mold removal
  • Any liability claims as a result of running a business is not affiliated or otherwise associated with Hub International Canada.