A new trend has taken over the real estate market -- owning condominiums. More consumers want to buy condominiums instead of traditional homes. Condos became popular because they are a lower-cost alternative to traditional homes (depending on the area), according to published reports.
New condo sales prompted the insurance industry to offer insurance just for condominium owners. However, there are several different offerings and it might be difficult to know which one is best for you. State Farm Insurance recommends the following options:
The Condominium/ Association Master Policy
Because it can be more efficient or economical, your association may insure all the building and common elements under a single package policy, commonly called an association master policy. The three typical ways to provide coverage, all through an association policy:
- Insures the building (walls, roof, floors, elevators) but leaves you responsible for insuring appliances, carpeting, cabinets, wall coverings, and other items in your unit.
- Insures both the basic building and the items within your unit other than personal property.
- Insures both basic building and includes unit owner fixtures and improvements.
When an association master policy insures some of the buildings, a condominium unit owners policy provides coverage for:
- Items not covered by the association master policy that may be your insurance responsibility.
- The value of building additions or alterations made by you, at your expense.
- Value added. For example, if you replaced the carpet in your condo with a higher-end or better quality carpet, this coverage would make up the difference in case of loss.
- Damage to your unit not compensated because of the master policy deductible.
If this sounds a bit complicated, it is. Building coverage is one of the more complex parts of insuring an association. You should discuss your needs fully with insurance agent.
Your Personal Property Coverage
Because you have a large investment in your personal property, you need enough coverage to compensate you if you suffer a covered loss. One study found that many condominium/ association unit owners are underinsured in terms of their personal property. Whatever type of association you live in, a good way to be certain you have adequate coverage is to complete an inventory of your possessions and their purchase date and price. Some insurers have inventory forms available to assist you. Put your inventory listing in a safe place outside your home. Photographs or video will supplement your inventory. To speed up your claim settlement if you have a covered loss, save receipts for major purchases. Check to make sure your policy has an inflation-guard feature -- one that automatically increases coverage for belongings.
Other Special Needs
If you operate an office or small business in your home, you may need special coverage. Check with your agent if you have a home business. This will help make sure that you have the right kind of coverage.
Putting it all together
Condominium association living has grown in popularity, and the insurance industry has responded by providing a broad selection of coverages and policies. Remember, that conditions in condominium association bylaws and other governing regulations may vary widely. Be certain that your policy covers any potential gaps in the condominium association master policy.
Discuss these needs with your insurance agent -- someone you most likely already trust for you car, life and health insurance needs.
Don't delay. The best protection against financial loss is well-planned coverage of your home and your possessions.
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