One confusing aspect of owning a condo is determining what items you, as an individual condo unit owner, are responsible to insure and what items are the responsibility of the condo association.

Let’s start with the easy part:

In any condo association each individual unit owner is always going to be responsible for insuring their own contents.

What are your contents?

We usually define contents (or personal belongings) as everything you would take with you if you moved – your furniture, dishware, clothing, television and stereo equipment, books, etc.

Your individual condo insurance policy should include adequate coverage to replace your personal belongings in the event of a loss.

On a related note, you should mention to your insurance agent if you have any unique personal belongings that may require special coverage such as jewelry, artwork, collectibles, or antiques.

The more challenging question for a condo owner is what portions of the building (dwelling) they are responsible for insuring.

The answer is going to be determined by both the association’s master insurance policy and the association bylaws.

On the first part, the answer will depend upon whether the association’s insurance policy provides broad, comprehensive coverage regardless of any stipulations in the association bylaws (known as an “All In” policy) or whether the association’s insurance policy simply follows the association bylaws.

If the insurance follows the association’s bylaws you’re going to need to review that document as there can be considerable differences from one condo association to the next in terms of defining what structural items each unit owner is responsible to maintain, repair, and insure. Typically, condo bylaws will range from specifying the unit owner insure from the bare walls in (including flooring, cabinetry, countertops, fixtures, and appliances) to just insuring any betterments and improvements, such as if you replaced and upgraded a laminate countertop to granite or quartz or added a 3-season porch.

The answer to how much insurance you would need for the condo building is going to depend on the type of insurance the association maintains, the insurance responsibilities of each owner as outlined in the bylaws, and, of course, the particulars of your condo.

A good insurance agent should be willing and able to review the insurance section of your bylaws to help you understand your insurance responsibilities.

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