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Understanding Condo Insurance: Personal Property Coverage

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 | August 2, 2018
Understanding Condo Insurance: Personal Property Coverage

Did you know that most typical condo insurance does not cover your personal property?

Condo insurance, also called HO-6 insurance, functions similar to homeowners’ policies, except that it works in tandem with your condo’s homeowners association (HOA) insurance. In most cases, external or outdoor areas fall under your condo association’s insurance, while any damages within your condo’s four walls are your personal responsibility. You can learn more about this difference here.

Even though your personal condo insurance protects your four walls… it may not protect everything inside those walls. In fact, most standard condo policies do not include the contents inside your home.

Below we’ll discuss how to fully protect your condo and belongings with condo personal property coverage.

What is condo insurance?

It’s important to understand the type of condo insurance that you have in order to determine how much personal or additional condo insurance you need.

Most condo insurance covers liability. This protects you in case someone is injured while in your condo unit. This ranges from $100,000 to $500,000 in liability, but you may want a personal liability umbrella policy for additional coverage.

Your condo insurance also covers property damage. This is damage to the physical property or unit—not your “extra” property like your belongings. Property damage usually covers damages by fire, weather, theft, vandalism, smoke, and frozen pipes. Most standard condo insurance will not cover flood or hurricane, which often needs to be purchased separately.

The extent of your property damage coverage depends on the type of policy you have. There are three main types of condo insurance that determine how much of your property structures are covered if damaged:

  • All in & all-inclusive protects all of your units’ exterior and interior structures, including appliances, plumbing, carpets, and wiring. The individual owner is still responsible for personal property contents.
  • Special entity covers the condo structure, including fixtures in the unit, but it doesn’t include any structural improvements or unit supplements that the owner might have added. The individual condo owner is responsible for contents.
  • Bare walls in or wall studs in covers just the bare structure of the condominium. It won’t cover any of the interior contents, including fixtures and personal property.

As you can see, in all cases, the owner of the condo is still responsible for covering their personal property in a separate condo policy. This is what we’ll discuss in-depth below.

What is personal property coverage?

Personal property coverage, otherwise called “contents coverage,” protects all of your personal items. This includes anything that you would take with you if you moved.

If you were to take your condo and shake it upside down, what would fall out? Those are your contents. This typically includes furniture, small appliances, electronics, jewelry, clothing, artwork, and TVs.

Homeowners’ policies sometimes include some level of contents coverage, though it’s usually in its own policy along with your standard policy. With condo insurance, you usually need to buy this policy separately in order to be fully protected.

In your contents coverage, you’ll want to include anything that would be financially uncomfortable to replace in the case that all of the items in your house were destroyed. The cost for repair or replacement of your condo would be astronomical, and personal property coverage is there in case of disaster to help refurnish your life quickly and simply without financial headache.


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How much personal property coverage do you need?

The coverage you’ll need for personal property depends on the value of your goods. The purpose of the policy is to replace items if they were completely lost. Look in the section below to learn the difference between actual and replacement value.

You’ll want to keep track of all of your belongings in your condo. Whenever you make a large purchase, you’ll want to update your contents coverage. It’s common for condo owners to forget to update their home inventory for years. But if disaster strikes, your insurance will cover only what’s on your contents list. If your $5,000 couch isn’t on your contents list, you won’t get anything for it if damaged.

Keep your list updated with contents and contents’ value to ensure you receive the right amount of coverage.

If you don’t know how much coverage you need, a general rule of thumb is to assume $40,000 in personal property for the first 1,000 square feet of your condo and add $5,000 for each additional 500 square feet. We don’t recommend estimating like this, but you can use this if you’re looking for quick condo insurance in the interim while you create a home inventory.

Note: If you have a bare walls or walls stud in policy, you may also want your personal property coverage to include certain interior structures and features.

It’s important to note that most condo insurance will have a limit on the amount of personal property coverage. They may even have limits on certain valuables like fine art, antiques, and jewelry. If you have especially expensive goods, you may need to purchase an endorsement or floater to provide additional coverage for these items.

Should I insure at actual cash or replacement cost?

There are two types of personal property insurance that determine how much you would be reimbursed after a loss: actual cash value and replacement cost coverage.

Actual cash value pays you the amount your belongings would be worth at the time they are damaged or stolen. This includes depreciation.

For example, you purchased a TV five years ago for $500. Today, that same TV is older, used, and out of style, so it’s only worth $100. If you have an actual cash value policy, you would be paid $100 reimbursement for that TV—not the $500 that you initially paid for it.

This can be problematic because the actual cash value may not be enough to replace or repair items. That $100 worth of the TV may not be able to buy you another comparable (or even non-comparable) TV in the marketplace.

Replacement cost coverage does not take depreciation into account. You are reimbursed the difference between actual cash value of belongings and what you need to repair or replace them. This ensures you are given enough cash to fully refurnish your home if need be.

Although replacement cost premiums are more expensive, it provides significantly more coverage and peace of mind. 

Condo owners tend to underestimate the cost to replace their items. You want to seriously consider what it would cost to completely replace all of your items in the case of serious damage.

Conclusion

Your condo insurance policy likely doesn’t cover damage to your own personal possessions. You’ll need separate personal property coverage to ensure all of your belongings are protected in the case of an incident.

Work with an agent to create a condo insurance plan that will include your contents and structure. Your agent can help you create an inventory and estimated value of your possessions to ensure your condo is fully safeguarded against any potential disaster.

Contact an InsuraMatch agent now to get started.