Personal property coverage, also called “contents coverage,” can help protect the belongings in your condo. Regardless of your homeowners association master policy, condo owners will almost always be responsible for covering their own personal property. In this article, we’ll discuss what a personal property coverage in a unit owner's condo policy covers and share some tips on how to determine how much coverage you may need to have adequate protection in place against life’s potential mishaps.
What does personal property cover?
The personal property coverage in a condo insurance policy helps cover your personal belongings in your condo. Think about all the stuff you’d pack up to move to your next house with you. This usually includes things like furniture, small appliances, electronics, TVs, clothing, plants, dog toys, pillows, and everything in between.
Condo insurance can get a little complicated, since you’ll need a unit owner's condo insurance policy in addition to the master policy held by your condo association. The master policy does not cover your personal belongings, so you’ll need to ensure that you have that coverage under your own condo insurance policy.
Why do I need personal property coverage?
Look around the room. How much did you spend on everything in there? How much is that couch worth? Your bed frame and mattress? Your children’s beloved stuffed animals? The televisions and appliances?
The items in your home can pretty quickly add up. For most of us, we collect a lot of stuff throughout our lives, and all of this “stuff” has value—both in terms of money and nostalgia. If your home were completely destroyed in a fire, it would cost quite a bit of money to replace all of your personal items—from your kitchen blender to your laptops to the snake plant you’ve had for four years. In the case of a total loss, you’d be stuck footing a huge bill to replace your belongings, probably even more than you expect.
Personal property coverage can help ease the financial burden of having to replace your belongings following a loss covered by your policy, which can include, theft, fire, water damage and more. Depending on your policy, coverage is typically provided in one of two ways. Your policy can provide you with replacement cost coverage, which, after your deductible, would reimburse you for the cost to replace your belongings with items of like kind and quality. Other policies include coverage for your belongings’ actual cash value (ACV). In this case, your policy would only reimburse you for what your belongings were worth at the time of the loss, after the deductible. For example, if you bought a top-of-the-line TV 5 years ago, with ACV coverage, your insurer would only reimburse what your TV is worth today.
Fun fact: Your personal property coverage may also cover items even if they’re not damaged in the condo itself. For example, if your laptop is covered by your insurance policy and it’s stolen from a coffee shop, you may still be able to file a claim with your insurer to help pay to replace it, subject to the type of coverage you have (replacement cost vs ACV) and your deductible. As long as it’s a covered peril, your belongings should still be covered up to the limits on your policy for items away from your residence.
Does my homeowners association cover personal property?
No, your homeowners association’s master policy will seldom cover your personal belongings. The association’s master policy may cover damage to common areas and the structure of your condo, and some association policies may even include some of the fixtures in your home like appliances and countertops. But very rarely will it cover your personal belongings and home additions/upgrades.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure you have a unit owner's condo policy with enough personal property coverage.
Learn more about the difference between your personal insurance and your association’s master policy here: Should I File a Claim With My Insurance or Association Master Policy?
How much personal property coverage do I need?
Generally, you’ll want to consider purchasing enough personal property coverage to cover the total value of all the contents in your home. Once you’ve determined that figure, you’ll also want to consider the deductible and the type of coverage your policy will provide, replacement cost vs. ACV. Remember, if your coverage is too low, you would be responsible for any remaining costs to repair or replace the items in your condo in the case of a total loss.
Let’s say your condo had an accidental fire that destroyed everything in your home (everyone is safe). You had $5,000 in personal property coverage. That is the maximum amount you could be paid out in the case of a claim. The amount paid is also subject to your deductible and any special limits on your policy. For many people, $5,000 barely covers the cost to replace their furniture, let alone your appliances, electronics, clothing, and more.
You want enough personal property insurance to cover everything you own. This helps ensure you could refurnish your home quickly without a major financial burden after a serious incident.
Get an in-depth look at calculating your personal property coverage needs here.
Make a home inventory
The best way to calculate your personal property coverage needs is to create a home inventory. This is an itemized list of everything in your home. In this inventory, you’ll want to include each item’s:
- Make, model, year
- Photos of the item
- Receipts from purchase
- Current appraised valuation of item, if relevant (like collectors’ items)
One of the easiest ways to make this home inventory is with a home inventory app. There are phone apps that help you easily keep track of all the items in your home, and you can send this information to your condo insurer (some apps even connect to your insurance company directly.) Simply walk around your house one Sunday morning, take some pictures, jot down some information, and get peace of mind! Check out some well-reviewed home inventory apps here.
It is possible that not all of your belongings will be covered by an individual condo insurance policy. High value or specialty items typically have a sublimit or might even be excluded from a standard policy. This includes items like jewelry, fine art, guns, musical instruments, certain electronics, collectors’ items, cash, and more. If you have anything that is a high-ticket item or is increasing in value (like a collection), talk to your insurance agent about purchasing a supplemental rider for full coverage and higher limits. Learn more about insuring your valuables here.
Also, be aware of the exclusions in your policy. The vast majority of condo policies do not cover damage caused by flood or earthquake, so you’ll want to consider a separate policy for those risks. As always, consult your policy or get in touch with your insurance agent to review what’s covered by your policy.
The bottom line
Don't be caught without the right coverage! While your condo may be partially covered by your condo association’s master policy, chances are that you are still responsible for your personal belongings. A home inventory can help you confidently choose the right coverage limits for your condo insurance policy and it’s always a good idea to chat with your insurance agent about your contents’ coverage limits and exclusions.
Compare condo insurance quotes with one of our expert insurance advisors at (844) 522-0543 today!
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