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Condo insurance, also known as HO-6 insurance, is designed to cover what your condo association’s master policy won’t.
A typical condo insurance policy covers your personal belongings and pays out if you’re found responsible for someone's injury.
The average condo insurance cost is $506 per year.
If you live in a condominium, you can likely count on the condo or homeowners association to insure the building and common areas, but it won’t help you if your personal belongings are stolen or destroyed in a fire. For those and other potential disasters, you’ll need a condo insurance policy, also called HO-6 insurance.
What is condo insurance?
Condo insurance covers what your HOA won’t. This could include replacing stolen belongings or repairing the inside of your unit after a disaster. Condo insurance also offers liability coverage in case your dog bites someone or a guest is injured in your home. (Note that not all dog breeds are covered by all insurers.)
What is HO-6 insurance?
HO-6 insurance is another name for condo insurance. The term refers to one of several home insurance policy forms used industrywide. For example, most homeowners are insured with HO-3 policies, while renters have HO-4 policies.
An HO-6 policy form is used to insure condos and co-ops. Although the ownership structures of condominiums and co-ops work differently, insurance policies for individual owners work pretty much the same way.
Is condo insurance required?
As with homeowners insurance, mortgage lenders generally require you to purchase condo insurance to protect their financial interest during the length of your loan.
Even if you’ve paid off your mortgage or purchased the property outright, you might still be on the hook because many HOAs require it.
What does a condo association’s insurance policy cover?
In many cases, some of your condo fees go toward a master insurance policy that covers certain disasters and liability issues. These may include:
Damage to the building’s exterior
For example, storm damage to the roof or outer siding would likely be covered.
Your association’s master policy generally covers damage to places like the lobby, elevators, hallways and tennis courts.
Injuries sustained in common areas
Say a visitor slips on an icy walkway outside the front door to the building. If she is injured and files a lawsuit, your HOA’s insurance would likely cover the liability costs.
What does condo insurance cover?
Individual condo insurance generally covers your personal belongings, living expenses if you need to relocate after a disaster and damages if someone sues you for negligence. Depending on what your condo association’s master insurance policy includes, your individual HO-6 insurance policy may also cover your unit’s interior fixtures and appliances. Here’s a breakdown of each type of condo insurance coverage.
Personal property coverage will replace furniture and other belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by a disaster listed in your HO-6 policy. These “named perils” typically include scenarios like fire, wind and hail.
Example: A thief breaks into your condo and steals a TV, two laptops and a necklace. Insurance would reimburse you for these losses, minus your deductible.
Some valuables such as jewelry or artwork may be covered only up to certain limits by a standard condo policy. If you have expensive items, you may need to purchase additional coverage. (An appraisal may be required.)
Additional living expenses or loss of use
If you can’t live in your unit due to a problem covered by your policy, condo insurance may cover hotel bills and other expenses.
Example: You have to move out of your condo for a couple of weeks while damage from a burst pipe is repaired. An HO-6 policy could pay for hotel bills, restaurant meals and laundry expenses that go beyond what you'd normally pay while living at home.
Liability and medical payments
Condo insurance can help cover liability costs if you’re sued for negligence or pay medical bills for someone injured inside your unit. Liability coverage may also pay for injuries caused by a pet or damage you do to someone else's property.
Example: While a friend is visiting your condo, he trips over an extension cord and fractures his wrist. Your medical payments coverage could help with his doctor bills.
Dwelling or building property
You may need to insure your unit’s interior with dwelling coverage, also known as building property coverage, depending on your HOA's master policy. Before buying condo insurance, check with your association to see which of the following coverage types applies to its master policy:
All-inclusive or all-in coverage
With this option, your association’s master policy will cover all items built into your unit, including light fixtures, appliances and cabinets, plus any improvements you make to these elements. If your HOA carries all-inclusive coverage, you likely don’t need dwelling coverage on your individual condo policy.
Single entity coverage
Single entity coverage is similar to all-in coverage except it doesn’t include any improvements or additions you make to your condo, only the original fixtures and appliances. If you make significant upgrades to your unit, you may want to add building property coverage to your policy.
Bare walls coverage
This includes the walls, floors and ceilings of the unit but not anything attached to them, such as carpets, light fixtures, appliances or sinks. You’ll need to seek coverage for these items under your individual condo policy. This type of coverage is why condo policies are sometimes called “walls-in insurance.”
As with personal property, your building property coverage generally applies only to disasters specifically named in the policy such as theft and fire.
Example: A fire in the unit next to yours spreads to your kitchen, destroying most of the room before it’s brought under control. Your HOA offers only bare walls coverage, so you turn to your building property coverage to pay for new cabinets and appliances.
» MORE: Compare condo mortgage rates
If your HOA surpasses the limits of its master policy — say, when repairing major hail damage to the building — each unit owner might need to contribute funds to make up the difference. If you have loss assessment coverage on your condo insurance, this sum may be partially or totally covered.
The master policy could also have a very large deductible, and the association might split that cost among all unit owners. Alternatively, an individual unit owner might be charged the entire deductible if the damage originated in their condo.
Example: Your dog knocks over a candle and starts a fire that destroys part of the building’s roof. If the master policy has a $10,000 deductible, the association might hold you responsible for that amount rather than asking all the building’s owners to chip in. Loss assessment coverage may cover this type of scenario as well.
Keep in mind that this coverage typically applies only when the cause of the damage in question is covered by your policy. So if your HOA asks you to contribute to repairs from flood damage, but your own condo policy doesn’t include flood insurance, loss assessment coverage may not help you.
Which scenarios are covered, and which aren’t?
Below are some common problems that are and aren’t included under a typical condo insurance policy. You may be able to purchase additional insurance for some of the scenarios that aren’t included.
Usually not covered
Fire and smoke.
Wind and hail.
Intentional injuries to others.
Damage from birds, rodents and insects.
Wear and tear.
Damage from underground water (such as sewer backups).
Optional condo insurance coverage
If a basic HO-6 policy isn’t sufficient, you can typically buy extra coverage in the form of endorsements, or add-ons to your policy. Below are a few common endorsements you can choose.
Replacement cost for personal property
A standard policy covers your personal belongings on an “actual cash value” basis, meaning that you’d be paid the depreciated value of older items if you ever filed a claim. Upgrading to replacement cost coverage means you’ll receive enough of a payout to buy brand-new items if your things are stolen or destroyed.
Scheduled personal property
Certain valuable items such as jewelry, art and firearms may have limited coverage under the personal property section of your policy. For example, even if your total personal property limit is $100,000, jewelry may be covered only up to $2,500. If your valuables are worth more than this sublimit, you can purchase additional coverage for them.
If a clogged drain or malfunctioning sump pump sends water into your unit, the water backup endorsement pays for any resulting damage.
Vacant or unoccupied condo
If you don’t live in your unit year-round or it’s unoccupied while you’re waiting to move in, you may need vacant home insurance. (A standard policy may not cover damage to a home that’s left unoccupied for more than 30 to 60 days.)
Adding an identity theft endorsement may give you coverage for legal bills, lost income or other expenses after an identity fraud incident.
How much condo insurance do you need?
To figure out the amount of personal property coverage you need to replace all your stuff, take a home inventory using the calculator below. Consider rounding up to the nearest $10,000 to make sure you have enough coverage.
When it comes to the interior of your unit, review your HOA’s master policy before purchasing an HO-6 policy. The amount of building property coverage you need will depend on whether you have to cover appliances, cabinets, carpets and light fixtures.
Liability coverage for condo insurance generally starts at $100,000. To decide how much you need, tally up the total amount you stand to lose if someone sues you, including the value of your savings and investments, vehicles and other assets. Then select enough liability coverage to cover at least that amount.
Loss assessment is included in some condo insurance policies and is an optional add-on for others. Even when it is included, the coverage limit is often fairly low (typically $1,000). You may wish to add more coverage, especially if your HOA’s master policy has a high deductible.
Condo policies can be tricky to buy because state laws and HOA bylaws differ from case to case. Talking with a licensed insurance agent is often the best way to get coverage suggestions for your situation.
How much is condo insurance?
The average condo insurance cost is $506 per year, according to National Association of Insurance Commissioners 2018 data, the latest available. Condo insurance rates vary widely depending on where you live, how much coverage you need and the deductible you choose. Check out the average condo insurance premium in your state:
Average annual premium
Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 2018 data
How to buy condo insurance
Many companies that offer homeowners insurance also sell policies for condos. Here are a few widely available companies to consider:
You can generally get condo insurance quotes on the insurers’ websites or by calling them directly. If you’d rather let someone else do the legwork, you can ask an independent agent to compare quotes on your behalf.
How to save on condo insurance
There are three primary ways to reduce the price you pay for condo insurance:
Shop around. We recommend getting quotes from at least three insurance companies to find the best price for the coverage you want.
Look for discounts. You might be able to save if you bundle your condo and auto insurance with the same company, or if your unit has safety devices like smoke detectors and deadbolt locks.
Raise your deductible. Don't do this unless you feel confident you would have enough savings to pay the higher amount in an emergency.