Condominium insurance provides coverage for your unit where your condominium association insurance stops. Your association master policy typically insures the exterior structure of the multi-unit building and other common areas, but you should check with your HOA for exact details. The individual owner is responsible for the insurance policy that covers damage to the contents and interior of the unit. This includes walls, staircases, plumbing, bathrooms, kitchens etc. Most condo homeowners also need personal property and liability coverage to cover the personal belongings of the home and against any lawsuits brought due to actions or accidents by the homeowner. It is wise to purchase enough coverage for your personal belongings as well as to reconstruct of the interior walls, rooms and figures of the home. Every association’s insurance policy is different regarding what each unit owner is responsible for, so it is important to review your association policy and condominium by-laws carefully.
Some common items to review and include in your replacement coverage for a condo are:
- The personal belongings of the owner(s) such as clothing, computers, furniture, appliances & electronics.
- Rebuilding cost of the interior of the unit. For example walls, carpeting, flooring, plumbing, electrical, fixtures & window and wall treatments.
- Patio/balcony furniture, storage and other items. This may include you washer and dryer if they are outside of the main unit.
- Additions to the original unit that may have been in place at the time you purchased the unit, but are not standard additions according to the HOA. For example, patio covers/awnings & landscaping.
- Garage storage and items (excluding cars). While the contents are not within your home they do belong to you and are part of the unit.
- Attic storage items. In order to save space, many people utilize the attic space to store items they may not always need on a regular basis. Be sure to include them in your home’s contents inventory.
- Consider your liability insurance limits
Taking Inventory of Your Home
No one plans to lose their valuables and other belongings in a burglary, a fire or a natural disaster. If one of these unfortunate events destroyed your home, would you be able to report exactly what you lost to the police, to the Internal Revenue Service or to your independent insurance agent?
Write down any valuable items with their serial numbers (usually found on the bottom or back of major appliances) along with the method of acquisition (purchased, inherited or received as a gift), date purchased and price or approximate value. Attach receipts, if possible.
Remember to include furniture, appliances, carpeting, jewelry, artwork, toys and the contents of your closets, cabinets and drawers. Contact your independent insurance agent with questions or concerns.
Play It Safe With A Video
Making a video for each room of your house can make taking inventories easier. Photographs and a cell phone video can substitute for a video camera.
A complete video inventory should contain verbal descriptions of major assets as well as their value. Remember your garage, attic, basement and the exterior of the house, plus your landscaping and fencing. If possible, make it a family project by having everyone take turns describing the objects in your home.
Store the video or photographs along with this inventory in a safe-deposit box and send a copy to a friend or relative.
Don’t Forget Important Documents
Extremely important documents should be photocopied. Keep one copy in your home and the original, where possible, in a safe-deposit box. Important items include, but are not limited to, the following:
- House – Escrow, title, deed, insurance policy.
- Personal – Birth certificates, medical history, passports, insurance certificates, credit card numbers, will.
- Automobile – Certificates of ownership, finance contracts, registrations, insurance policy, driver’s licenses.
- Finance – Account numbers for checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, other significant investments.
- Tax – Copies of the first two pages of your state and federal returns for the past five years. Complete returns with appropriate receipts and canceled checks should be kept in a separate file box.
A Final Note
Most policies limit the amount of reimbursement for theft of valuable items, such as jewelry, furs, silverware and guns. If you have some particularly valuable items in these categories, you may need to purchase additional coverage called a “floater.” These types of policies cover each item individually and are usually quite inexpensive.
This information will only be beneficial if you make use of it now. By inventorying your personal possessions ahead of time, you will save yourself from frustration should disaster strike. Your independent insurance agent can help you determine whether your property is adequately protected.
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