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Condominium Home Owners Insurance

December 04, 2014 | Posted by Nathan Zacharias | Tagged in

Condominiums and Personal Insurance Coverage

Though I cannot profess to be an insurance expert I have encountered a number of informative experiences as a condo owner, a Realtor, a landlord, and from being a member of various Condominium Boards. I hope by sharing some common information and tales that my blog will encourage condo owners to contact their insurance broker or provider to ensure they have adequate coverage. Insurance should never be assumed; always contact a licensed professional to help you navigate your coverage.

Your Condo Corporation’s policy does not have your fully covered

So many condominium owners either forget or are unaware that insurance coverage in addition to the condo/strata insurance policy being carried by the Condo Association is absolutely necessary. Insurance can be quite complicated, but avoiding it as a condo owner could be disastrous and costly. Simply speaking a Condo Associations insurance policy may end where your unit starts. To understand why having a condominium owner’s policy is important; you will need to understand in a little more detail how condos work.

Common Property and Legal Units in a Condo plan

Condominiums or Condos as they are often referred to (Strata’s in B.C.), can include such dwelling styles as townhouses, low rise apartment style, and high rise apartment style dwellings. There is a common misconception that a townhouse is not condo, or that it can’t be a condo, but this is not true. If the dwellings are divided up into legal units, are registered on a condo plan, and share common property with other owners, then you are dealing with a Condo. Apartments buildings with one certificate of title and no legally divided units and/or condo plan as explained above, are not condo, however, as a tenant of an apartment dwelling unit you should still talk to an insurance professional about coverage.

A condo owner has two kinds of ownership: Common Area and Legal Condo Unit. Common area of a condo is shared by all owners and the proportion of the ownership is normally measured by something called a Unit Factor. Unit factor can be found on the certificate of tile and determines your share of the common property and is expressed as a ratio. Your legal Condo Unit is defined by the boundaries on the condo plan as well as the Condominium Property Act(Strata Property Act in British Columbia). Simply speaking the Condo Board that is elected by the owners will ensure that the common areas are covered on behalf of the ownership and you, as the owner, need to ensure coverage for yourself, and your belongings within the boundaries of your own unit. Additionally it is important to seek liability coverage for things that may happen while using the common property as a resident of the Condo building.

Responsibilities of an Owner

It is the boundary of these legal units and common property along with the definitions and responsibilities defined in condo corporations’ bylaws and the Act that make an owner’s insurance policy a must! The Condominium Property Act as well as the bylaws of your condo corporation outlines areas of responsibility that owners should be aware of. As an owner you need to carry appropriate insurance coverage to address damage to Common Property and other units that may originate from you or your unit because of the actions of yourself, a guest, or even a tenant.

In some cases a Condo Corporation may have an insurance claim in place to deal with damages. The deductible on some events on commercial insurance policies can be $10,000 or more, and if you are found to be responsible for this, having a condominium owners policy with a lower deductible can potentially help you reduce your costs of the incident.

Real life Example of a Lack of Insurance

A Condo owner had rented out their unit. The tenant came home drunk and passed out with the bath tub running. The end result had been multiple units and common area below being affected by the water and remediation costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. The problem and costs were the responsibility of the condo owner who had failed to carry any home owners insurance. The Condo Corporations costs to remediate and repair the damage was less than the insurance deductible, and the costs were billed to the owner back for the charges. Unable to pay the tens of thousands of dollars the owner found themselves with a lien filed on title of their unit, and ran the risk of foreclosure. This is something that a $20 per month policy could have protected against.

What Is Typically Covered in a Condominium Home Owners Policy?

Property – Typically will include fixtures and cabinets, and/or other items that are not covered by your condo association’s insurance policy. Always notify your condo board and/or property manager if you have made any significant improvements to your suite as it may impact coverage.

Possessions – Possessions such as clothing, furniture, electronics, bicycles, and potentially some valuables. A home owners policy can in some circumstances even cover belongings that have been taken off site. Maximums can vary greatly so always ensure you have enough coverage in comparison to the value of your possessions and make sure any special valuables are brought to the attention to your provider.

Assessment for repair of damage –Some insurance providers will cover portions of assessments as a result of an insured cause of loss. Something such as damages to a roof or a lobby that was an insured loss and costs are being levied against the owners may be included by your provider.

Liability –Your condominium owners policy will usually have some type of liability insurance on your policy that might help you defend against law suits, or pay damages that you are found to be responsible for. We’ve all seen accidents happen, and this type of insurance can help prevent any hardship due to such an incident involving a visitor on your property.

Some Optional Coverage

Loss of Rent –On many occasions I’ve seen unnecessary hardship by landlords who did not property insure their investments. Landlords should always advise their insurance professionals their units are being rented and inquire as to any riders that may help prevent loss of income for certain occurrences where the condo unit may be uninhabitable or left vacant without rental income.

The most important thing about being an owner of a condo with respect to insurance is to make sure you make the effort to ensure you have proper coverage by talking to your insurer, and electing people to your condo board that are capable of binding the proper coverage for your commercial policy. Get involved and you’ll be protected and rewarded for doing so!


Nathan Zacharias B.Comm.

Associate Broker – Real Estate Professionals Inc.

Mortgage Associate – Exzact Mortgage Corp.

Phone: 403-668-4260