We’ve been busy shopping around for home insurance for the condo that we’re buying. I’ve contacted several agents by phone and e-mail looking for a good deal. I’ve successfully reduced our car insurance bill by half simply by checking with different companies, so I know this will be worth the effort.
Why do you need homeowner’s insurance for a condo?
Homeowner’s insurance provides protection in the event of a loss such as a fire or burglary. You are most likely required to have it if you’re carrying a mortgage, as your lender will want the property protected.
Even if your lender recommends a company, you’re free to shop around as long as you meet their minimum requirements for insurance coverage. In addition to property protection, you’ll also get some level of liability protection that covers claims from people injured while on your property.
Your cost will vary based on the amount of coverage you sign up for and the amount of your deductible. We decided to look at a $500 deductible for now, which means we’re responsible for the first $500 of any claim.
What special about homeowner’s insurance for a condo?
I found out quickly that condo insurance is cheaper than home insurance. This is because your homeowner’s association will pay for the common areas in case of damage. Any additional coverage depends on the home association rules. To be honest, I found it difficult to quickly scan and find the answer in our HOA manual, so I called them instead.
While some associations do pay for the exterior of the structure, ours only pays for the common areas. MSN ran a story about condominium insurance and an insurance agent explaining how structural coverage can vary depending on your HOA’s “master” policy:
- Bare walls in. These policies cover all real property from the exterior framing inward but do not cover fixtures or installations within a condo unit. Features such as counter tops, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and flooring are not covered. If your condo association has this kind of master policy, you’ll probably have a greater need for individual coverage…
- All in. These policies cover fixtures, installations or additions within the interior surfaces of the perimeter walls, floors and ceilings of individual units. Condo owners under an all-in plan will probably have a more limited need for individual coverage…
Check with your HOA to get an idea of what type of coverage you need.
Contact Information for Insurance Companies
Insure.com offers an online home insurance quote form on its site. While it asks you some questions on discounts and coverage, you might want to call some companies directly to speak with an agent.
When calling or e-mailing for a quote, be prepared to ask for discounts. Some things that may lower your premiums include:
- Smoke detectors
- Alarm system
- Distance to the nearest fire station (closer = better)
- Distance to nearest fire hydrant
- Fire extinguishers (believe it or not, we got one as a gift!)
Also check to see if you can qualify for an alumni discount. Finally, if you have other policies with the same carrier (such as car insurance), check on the availability of a multi-policy discount.
Who do you have insurance with? Are you happy with your coverage, rates, and/or service? What discounts have you received on your home insurance? Do you have any other tips?