CONDO LIVING - CONDO INSURANCE
Many condo owners have a misconception that they don’t need household insurance, because it is covered by the corporation through their common expenses payment made each month. All condominium corporations must carry insurance on the building, and this policy should be available to every owner. This policy, however, does not cover everything, and in some instances, deductibles can be quite high.
The corporations insurance typically covers the common areas, such as the lobby, hallways, elevators, but does not cover an owners personal belongings. In most instances, even if the condominium policy pays for some or all of the loss affecting your unit, you may be responsible for the deductible. If your unit has been upgraded beyond the base building standard, including hardwood, ceramic, cabinetry and appliances, the condominium policy may exclude these upgrades.
Protect yourself by confirming with your insurance broker that contents coverage includes items stored in your locker or parking garage. You can also purchase special insurance to protect yourself against most special assessments levied by the corporation.
If an accident occurs in your units such as a burst pipe or fire and this results in damages affecting the condominium and/or another unit, you may be personally responsible, not the condominium insurance policy. Ensure that your broker has read the insurance policy that binds the corporation, and clearly explains any limitations that might affect you.
It is also important to read and understand the declarations related to what is your responsibility versus the corporations. Generally speaking, the repairs and maintenance for most items within your unit are your responsibility, should a breakdown occur. The most common insurance related occurrence in condominiums relates to water. Most condominium corporations will have a rule that calls for the water to be shut off in your unit when you are not home. By simply shutting the main water valve off for your unit, you can avoid a potentially catastrophic failure
Water supply lines are the most frequent culprits of failure related to water loss. Get in the habit of replacing the supply lines that service your faucets, appliances and toilets as per manufactures warranty. If you are unable to verify when they were replaced last, or can’t read who the manufacturer is, it’s time to replace them. Most supply lines are good for five years. Exercising the shut off valves at least twice a year (make a note to do this with daylight savings time), will ensure these valves don’t seize and fail.
Toilet gaskets are also synonymous with failure when they dry out. Toilets should be flushed on a regular basis. If you plan on leaving your unit for an extended period of time, ensure to notify the management company, and arrange for someone to regularly inspect your unit, including flushing your toilets. Be sure that they shut off the main water valves before they lock up and leave.
Do your research, and ask the questions necessary for you to understand what is covered and what isn’t under the corporation’s policy. Know the deductible for your policy, and confirm with your broker that your contents and personal belongings are sufficiently covered, including furniture, jewellery, art and clothing.
By purchasing the right kind and amount of insurance you will avoid unwanted surprises,