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Condo Insurance: How to Shop for an H06 Insurance Policy

Find out what factors to consider when you're shopping for H06 insurance to cover your condo, especially when your HOA master policy lacks adequate coverage.

A condo might be perfect if you’re looking to buy a home, yet you want a low-maintenance property.

Homeownership is an excellent way to put down roots and build equity, but ownership is expensive since you’re also responsible for regular maintenance and repairs. 

The benefit of buying a condo, though, is that you’re often only responsible for the home’s interior. If the condo needs a new roof or siding, you don’t have to pay for the maintenance.

But while the process of buying a condo is similar to buying other types of properties like a single-family home, the insurance you purchase for a condo is slightly different.

You’ll have to buy an H06 policy or condo insurance. 

How does this differ from typical homeowner’s insurance?

Here’s what you need to know about condo insurance before purchasing this type of dwelling.

What Is an H06 Insurance Policy?

Buying a condo means you’re also buying into a homeowner’s association or HOA.

HOAs are required to have a master policy. And as a property owner in the community, your condo dues help fund this policy. HOA insurance covers the external structure of the condo.

Other areas of the community that fall under the master policy include common areas like:

  • swimming pools
  • tennis courts
  • hallways
  • elevators
  • playgrounds
  • recreational centers

Now:

As the condo owner, you’re typically responsible for everything inside the walls of the unit.

For this reason, you’ll need to purchase condo insurance.

Condo Insurance vs. Standard Homeowner’s Insurance

Condo insurance is different from a typical homeowner’s insurance policy. 

When you buy a standard policy, the policy covers the entire home structure—the interior and the exterior. Your homeowner’s insurance policy also covers other structures on the property, too. This can include a detached garage, a shed, and a swimming pool.

Condo insurance is designed to cover what an HOA’s master policy doesn’t. 

That said:

Master policies vary.

So, it’s important to understand your exact coverage when purchasing a condo. Some master policies are “bare walls-in,” in which case they only cover the structure.

You’re then responsible for the following:

  • plumbing
  • electrical
  • sheetrock
  • bathrooms
  • kitchen
  • appliances
  • flooring
  • fixtures
  • personal belongings

To illustrate, if a natural disaster damages the siding of your condo, a bare walls-in master policy would cover the cost to replace the siding. But if your water heater breaks and floods the interior of your unit, your owner’s policy would cover this damage.

If the master policy is “all-in,” it protects the exterior and interior of the unit (fixtures, appliances, flooring, electrical, plumbing, etc.). These policies, however, don’t cover your personal belongings. 

Your owner’s policy offers additional coverage, too.

This includes loss of use coverage in the event that your condo becomes uninhabitable. It’ll cover your cost to live in a hotel or rent a similar home temporarily. 

It also includes liability insurance in case an injury occurs on your property. This portion of the policy covers the injured party’s medical bills.

Similar to a typical homeowner’s insurance policy, condo insurance doesn’t usually cover earthquakes and floods. If you live in an area prone to these natural disasters, you’ll need to purchase separate flood and earthquake insurance.

Do You Need Condo Insurance?

Since all condo association master policies cover the exterior of the property, you might question whether condo insurance is required for the interior.

It really depends on the circumstances.

You have a mortgage

If you’re financing the purchase of your condo, your mortgage lender will likely require that you purchase an owner’s condo policy.

This protects the lender’s financial interest in the home. Often times, you’re required to maintain condo insurance for as long as you have the mortgage loan.

That said:

Even if you don’t have a mortgage on the property, getting an owner’s insurance policy makes good financial sense. 

Theft or damage can be costly. And without a policy, you could end up paying thousands out-of-pocket for repairs or replacements.

Possible HOA requirement

Keep in mind, too, many HOAs require their owners to maintain a condo insurance policy.

How to Shop for Condo Insurance

Know the terms of HOA's master policy

Before shopping for condo insurance, make sure you have an understanding of your condo association’s master policy.

This way, you have a clear idea of your insurance needs. 

Buying too much insurance results in overpaying, and too little coverage means you’re not fully protected.

Take inventory of your belongings

It’s also important that you get enough insurance to replace your belongings.

It can be difficult to determine your coverage needs.

You’ll need to take inventory of your personal belongings, and estimate their cash value and replacement costs. This is for clothes, furniture, electronics, artwork, etc.

If you’ve made improvements to the interior of your condo since getting your original policy, contact your agent to increase your coverage limit. 

Your current condo policy likely only covers original fixtures. If you never update your coverage, the policy won’t cover certain improvements after a fire or damage from natural disasters.

Speak with an agent

To get started, contact several local agents to get a free rate quote. It’s important to compare condo insurance because rates can vary from provider to provider.

If you live in a flood or earthquake zone, you should also compare rates for these insurances.

How Much Does Condo Insurance Cost?

The good news:

Condo insurance is typically cheaper than a typical homeowner’s insurance policy.

This is because many owner policies only cover the interior structure. 

Annual premiums will vary depending on location, dwelling size, and other factors like your deductible and liability protection.

On average, though, a standard H06 insurance policy costs roughly $625 a year. 

Along with shopping around, here are other ways to save money on condo insurance.

1. Increase your deductible

Like other insurance policies, condo insurance has a deductible.

This is what you pay out-of-pocket before your insurer pays a claim. Deductibles vary, with some being as low as $500 per claim. They can increase to $1,000 to $2,500 per claim (or more).

Even though a low deductible means you’ll spend less out-of-pocket per claim, it can also increase your annual premium. 

To lower your premium, consider raising your deductible. Only select a higher deductible if you have cash in reserves to cover this expense in the event of a claim.

2. Bundle your insurance

If you also have auto insurance or health insurance, consider getting your condo insurance through the same insurer.

Insurance providers reward loyalty, so if you bundle policies or have more than one policy with the same company, they’ll typically offer a discount.

3. Add security features

Before providing a quote, your insurance agent will ask several questions about the property.

You might score a discount if the condo has extra safety features.

This includes smoke detectors on all floors, deadbolt locks, or a security system.

Frequently Asked Questions About Condo Insurance

Can I write-off condo insurance premiums?

Certain costs associated with buying a home and homeownership are tax-deductible. If you itemize your tax return, you might be able to write off mortgage interest and real estate taxes. 

Typically, though, the only insurance you can write off with a primary residence is mortgage insurance. This is an insurance borrowers pay when they buy a house with less than a 20 percent down payment. 

Therefore:

You cannot deduct condo insurance on a primary residence.

You can, however, deduct this insurance when you rent out your condo to someone else.

Does condo insurance cover sewer backup damage?

The same way a standard condo insurance policy doesn’t cover external flooding, it also doesn’t cover damage from a backed-up sewer.

For this type of protection, you would need to add a rider to your policy.

Does my condo insurance policy cover other units?

As a condo owner, you’ll share a wall with one or more other units.

Due to the close proximity, damage within your unit could potentially spread to another unit. This might happen after a burst pipe or a fire inside your home. 

Fortunately, the liability coverage section of your condo insurance policy also covers this damage. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re financing your condo or own it outright, having an owner’s condo policy can protect your most valuable asset. 

But before buying a policy, make sure you understand what your condo association’s master policy covers.

These policies vary, so whereas one policy might only cover the condo’s exterior, other policies are all-in and cover everything except your personal property.