What Is Condo Insurance, and What Does It Cover?

Condo insurance covers damaged or stolen belongings, as well as liability costs if guests get hurt in your home.
Written by Sarah Schlichter
Reviewed by Brenda J. Cude

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Nerdy takeaways
  • 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 injuring someone.

  • The average condo insurance cost in the U.S. is $512 per year.

Nerdy takeaways
  • 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 injuring someone.

  • The average condo insurance cost in the U.S. is $512 per year.

If you own a condominium, you can likely count on the condo association to insure the building and common areas. But the association’s master policy won’t help you if your belongings are stolen or destroyed in a fire. For those and other potential disasters, you’ll need a personal condo insurance policy, also called HO-6 insurance.

What is condo insurance?

Condo insurance covers what your association’s master policy won’t. This could include replacing a stolen TV 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 gets hurt in your home. (Note that some insurers won’t cover certain dog breeds.)

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 buy HO-3 policies, while renters have HO-4 policies.

An HO-6 policy form insures condos and co-ops. Although condominiums and co-ops have different ownership structures, 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 buy condo insurance. Having this coverage in place protects the lender’s 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. Many associations require owners to buy individual condo policies, and they may even specify minimum levels of coverage.

What does a condo association’s insurance policy cover?

In many cases, some of your condo fees go toward the association’s master insurance policy. This insurance generally covers disasters and liability issues such as:

Damage to the building’s exterior

For example, the master policy usually pays for storm damage to the roof or outer siding.

Common areas

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 they are injured and file a lawsuit, your association’s insurance would likely cover the liability costs.

Keep in mind that the above is general guidance. Consider asking your property manager or a member of the condo board for a copy of your association’s master policy. Knowing exactly what’s included will help you figure out what coverage you need in your individual condo policy.

What does condo insurance cover?

Individual condo insurance generally covers your personal belongings and offers financial protection 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 individual condo insurance coverage.

Personal property

Personal property coverage pays to replace furniture and other belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by an event 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 those losses, minus your deductible.

A standard condo policy may cover valuables such as jewelry, electronics or artwork only up to certain limits. If you have expensive items, you may need to buy extra coverage. (The insurance company will likely ask for an appraisal — a professional assessment of the item’s value — before it will cover a pricey item.)

🤓Nerdy Tip

There are two types of personal property coverage. The default is typically “actual cash value,” which means your insurer will pay out the value of your items at the time they’re stolen or destroyed. With this option, you may not get much of a payout for older items. To receive enough money to buy a brand-new dining room set in place of your 10-year-old one, pay extra for replacement cost coverage.

Additional living expenses or loss of use

If you can’t live in your unit due to a covered event, condo insurance may cover hotel bills and other expenses.

Example: You have to move out of your condo for a couple of weeks during repairs for a burst pipe. 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

Individual condo insurance can help cover liability costs if you’re sued for negligence or damaging someone else’s property. Personal liability coverage can also pay medical bills if a guest is hurt in your unit or your dog bites someone at the park.

Example: While visiting your condo, a friend trips over an extension cord and breaks his wrist. Your medical payments coverage could help with his doctor bills.

Dwelling or building property coverage

You may need to insure your unit’s interior with dwelling coverage, also known as building property coverage, depending on your condo association’s master policy. Before buying individual 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. It will also cover any improvements you make to these elements. If your association 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. However, 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 individual policy.

Bare walls coverage

This includes the walls, floors and ceilings of the unit but not anything attached to them, such as carpets or appliances. 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 events 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. Your condo association’s master policy offers only bare walls coverage, so the building property coverage on your individual policy pays for new cabinets and appliances.

Loss assessment

If your condo association goes above the limits of its master policy — say, when repairing major hail damage to the building — each unit owner might need to help make up the difference. If you have loss assessment coverage on your condo insurance, it might cover this expense.

The master policy could also have a very large deductible, and the association might split that cost among all unit owners. Alternatively, the association could ask an individual unit owner to pay 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.

Keep in mind that this coverage typically applies only when your individual policy covers the cause of the damage in question. Say your association asks you to contribute to repairs from flood damage, but you haven’t added flood insurance to your individual condo policy. In this case, loss assessment coverage wouldn’t help you.

Which scenarios are covered, and which aren’t?

Below are some common problems that a typical individual condo insurance policy will and won’t cover. You may be able to buy extra insurance for some of the scenarios that aren’t included.

Usually covered

Usually not covered

  • Fire and smoke.

  • Explosions.

  • Wind and hail.

  • Theft.

  • Vandalism.

  • Lightning.

  • Burst pipe.

  • Earthquakes.

  • Floods from external sources, such as heavy rainfall or storm surge.

  • Intentional injuries to others.

  • Nuclear hazards.

  • 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 enough, 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 the insurer would pay the depreciated value of older items if you ever filed a claim. Upgrading to replacement cost coverage means the payout will be enough to buy brand-new items.

Water backup

If a clogged drain or malfunctioning sump pump sends water into your unit, the water backup endorsement pays for any resulting damage.

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, your policy may cover jewelry theft only up to $2,500. If your valuables are worth more than this sublimit, you can buy extra coverage for them.

Identity theft

Adding an identity theft endorsement may give you coverage for legal bills, lost income or other expenses after an identity fraud incident.

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 condo that’s left empty for more than 30 to 60 days.)

How much condo insurance do you need?

To figure out the amount of personal property coverage you need, take stock of what you own and what it’s worth. Here’s how to make a home inventory.

For a quick estimate, you can use 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, look over your association’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 individual condo insurance generally starts at $100,000. To decide how much you need, tally up the total amount you could lose if someone sues you. Include the value of your savings and investments, vehicles and other assets. Then get enough liability coverage to cover at least that amount.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you can’t buy liability limits high enough to protect your assets, consider buying umbrella insurance, which offers extra liability coverage beyond your existing policies.

Some condo policies include loss assessment, while others offer it as an optional add-on. 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 condo association’s master policy has a high deductible.

Condo policies can be tricky to buy because state laws and association 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 does condo insurance cost?

The average condo insurance cost is $512 per year, according to National Association of Insurance Commissioners 2019 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:

State

Average annual cost

Alabama

$559

Alaska

$408

Arizona

$407

Arkansas

$549

California

$563

Colorado

$431

Connecticut

$409

Delaware

$445

Florida

$997

Georgia

$516

Hawaii

$325

Idaho

$426

Illinois

$394

Indiana

$347

Iowa

$265

Kansas

$404

Kentucky

$395

Louisiana

$765

Maine

$349

Maryland

$324

Massachusetts

$447

Michigan

$378

Minnesota

$326

Mississippi

$617

Missouri

$403

Montana

$410

Nebraska

$358

Nevada

$444

New Hampshire

$347

New Jersey

$457

New Mexico

$415

New York

$578

North Carolina

$502

North Dakota

$293

Ohio

$312

Oklahoma

$655

Oregon

$375

Pennsylvania

$393

Rhode Island

$524

South Carolina

$504

South Dakota

$303

Tennessee

$479

Texas

$531

Utah

$271

Vermont

$354

Virginia

$371

Washington

$390

Washington, D.C.

$377

West Virginia

$320

Wisconsin

$258

Wyoming

$409

Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 2019 data

How to buy condo insurance

Many companies that offer homeowners insurance also sell policies for condos. Here are some 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 pay less 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. Some insurers offer discounts 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. Otherwise, the lower premium may not be worth it.

Frequently asked questions

Condo insurance, also known as HO-6 insurance, is a policy designed to complement your association’s master insurance policy. It covers your personal belongings and, in many cases, permanent fixtures in your unit such as built-in appliances. It also helps with expenses if you’re sued for negligence or if you need to relocate during disaster repairs.

Not all individual condo policies include loss assessment coverage. Even if yours does, it probably won't cover every special assessment. For example, your policy likely wouldn’t help with a special assessment to replace an aging roof because insurance doesn’t pay for wear and tear. But if a fire destroyed the roof, your loss assessment coverage would probably pay out because most insurance policies cover fires.

An HO-3 policy is the most common homeowners insurance policy, while an HO-6 policy is specifically for condos. An HO-3 policy insures single-family homes with coverage for the entire building, plus free-standing structures like sheds or fences. Because condo dwellers don’t own their building or the land it sits on, an HO-6 policy covers only their own unit and what's inside.

If you have a mortgage on your condo, your lender will likely require you to buy insurance for it. But condo insurance is different from a standard homeowners insurance policy, as it covers only your unit, not the building itself.

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