When you live in a condo, your association’s insurance policy and your own condo policy will cover different types of damage to the dwelling, depending mainly on where the loss occurs.1 This can make it confusing to figure out which policy you should look to in the event you need to file a claim. It’s important to look closely at association documentation, and know the differences between your responsibility and your association’s – and how they may overlap.

What does the condo association’s policy cover?

The condo association’s policy, also known as the “master policy,” will usually cover the building’s physical structure as well as common areas, including elevators, roof, basement and other shared spaces.

Master policies generally fall into one of two categories: “all-in” or “bare walls.” An all-in policy includes the unit’s structure – the walls, ceilings, floors and fixtures (like cabinetry, lighting and appliances) – as it was originally designed. In contrast, a bare walls policy only covers ceilings and floors, not fixtures. The type of policy your condo association has will affect the amount of personal coverage you will need.

What does my personal condo policy cover?

Your personal policy will cover damage to the interior of your unit and provide loss assessment coverage to protect you when claims involve the building or its common areas. It will also cover your belongings should they be damaged, and provides liability coverage if a guest is injured in your unit.

A personal condo policy may cover costs associated with living elsewhere, also known as “loss of use” coverage, if your unit becomes temporarily uninhabitable. The policy can provide for expenses that exceed your normal standard of living, such as dining out and staying at a hotel for an extended period of time.

What does my neighbor’s personal policy cover?

While owners of standalone houses may experience property loss due to a neighbor’s neglect, the shared walls and close quarters of condo living make it more likely. If someone living next to, above or below you causes destruction to your unit, their personal liability coverage may cover your loss.

What should I ask when filing a claim for damage to my unit?

Start by contacting your condo association and/or your neighbor to assess whether their policies may cover your loss, depending on the nature of the issue. Be sure to ask your own insurance representative if you should proceed with making repairs, or if there’s anything you need to do to prevent further damage. To document the extent of the loss and help determine the replacement value, take before-and-after photos and retain all receipts and invoices of work completed.

For condo owners, figuring out who covers a claim can become complicated. If you’re buying a unit for the first time, find out what you need to know from the start.