When it come to insuring a house, condo and co-op, policies typically cover most of the same things, but differ in coverage when it comes to the structure of the home. In this piece we will analyze in depth all the differences between homeowners, condo and co-op insurance.
What's the Difference Between Homeowners Insurance, Condo and Co-Op Insurance?
The main difference between insuring a condo, co-op or house comes down the parts of the home you own. When you own a house, you own everything. This includes everything inside the house, its structure and even the land on which the house sits. When you own a condo or have shares in a co-op on the other hand, you are only responsible for the space within your walls. Everything else, hallways, common areas, etc., those parts are usually covered by a collective homeowners association insurance policy. Co-ops and condos have virtually the same type of insurance since the main difference between the two types of homes are how they are owned and managed.
Differences between these types of insurance policies can be further explored by examining the three parts of property insurance: dwelling coverage, personal property coverage and liability coverage--which we dissect in closer detail below.
What's the Difference Between The Three Policies for Dwelling Coverage?
How dwelling coverage affects structures located outside the home is the main difference between home, condo and co-op insurance. Dwelling coverage in a home insurance policy covers your physical home: the walls, the roof, ceilings, floors, etc. It also covers outside structures like pools, sheds, garages and fences. Homeowners are responsible for any physical structure on the land their home sits on. Co-op and condo owners, on the other hand, do not have this responsibility. Your condo or co-op complex may have a fence and a pool, but it will actually be the condo/co-op association's insurance that will cover damages in those areas. As a condo or co-op owner, your dwelling coverage just has to be enough to cover damage that can happen inside your home. For example, if a fire breaks out in your condo destroying the kitchen, you would need insurance to pay for those damages.
Read Your Condo/Co-Op Association's Insurance Policy
Every condo and co-op complex will have its own insurance policy that will cover damage to common areas such as pools, hallways, parking lots, etc. In certain complexes however, the policy may even extend to the interior of your home. When you first move into your condo or co-op you should parse through the policy with your insurance agent to see what is exactly covered by your condo/co-op association's plan. Sometimes the building policy will cover your home as it is originally built, leaving you only needing to cover improvements to the home. For example, if you installed new cabinets which raised the value of the home by $10,000, you may only have to cover the extra $10,000. In other cases, your condo association policy may not cover your kitchen or any other part of the home beside the ceilings, walls and floor.
It's incredibly important to go through your association's plan in thorough detail so you know how much condo/co-op insurance you need. If you get coverage that overlaps with your association's policy, you would be spending more on insurance than you need. On the other hand, if you are underinsured, you can end up spending thousands for damages you're not covered for. If you are still unsure after reading the policy, we encourage you to talk to an insurance professional for advice.
Distinctions Between Homeowners, Condo and Co-Op for Liability Coverage
As a house owner, you typically open yourself up to more liability risk than condo or co-op owners because of the extra structures you own. The liability portion of a home property insurance policy is meant to shield you from litigation from people injured in your home, or those you accidentally injured away from your home. If you own a house however, people can get injured inside, but also outside in your backyard, pool, trampoline etc. For condo or co-op owners, anyone injured in common areas, like the complex's pool would again be covered by the complex's liability insurance. So even if you invite a friend over to swim in your building's pool, and they injure themselves, it would be the financial responsibility of the building.
As a condo or co-op owner, you could get away with smaller liability coverage, but we would still recommend you have the same amount of liability insurance as you would if you owned a house. You never know how expensive someone else's injury can become after medical and legal fees. We always advise people to have enough liability protection to equal the total amount of assets they are currently holding or are likely to hold in the future.
How Is Personal Property Protection Different Between The Three?
The percentage of your overall coverage for personal property protection will likely be different between the three policies. Standard homeowners policies are usually insured for 25% to 50% of your dwelling coverage. Typically a $250,000 coverage would have $100,000 of personal property protection. Your condo or co-op likely won't need $250,000 worth of dwelling coverage. However, you may still need $100,000 worth of personal property coverage. It all depends on how much your personal property that you keep inside your home is worth.
Feel free to adjust your co-op and condo personal property limits to reflect the true value of your possessions because your complex's insurance policy for condo and co-op owners is unlikely to cover any of your personal possessions. We always recommend people make an inventory of their most valuable objects and jot down their likely value. This will help should there ever be a disaster and you need your stuff replaced since you'll have it ready for the insurance company when you file your claim.
Cost of Homeowners, Condo and Co-Op Insurance
The cost of homeowners insurance is usually twice as expensive as a policy for a co-op and condo. As we explain above, you do not need as much dwelling coverage for a condo or co-op, so that dramatically cuts down on the price of a policy. We find the average cost of homeowners insurance to be $952 per year. For condo and co-op insurance you should expect prices to fall around $400 to $600.