Many first-time Edmonton condo owners are unsure about whether they need condo insurance for their new home - after all, doesn't the condominium corporation carry insurance, paid for by the condo fees?
The answer may surprise you - although you may be paying expensive monthly fees to the condo corporation, the insurance they carry typically does not cover what's actually inside your unit. Thus, if a catastrophe such as fire occurs, you may be on the hook to replace everything from flooring to cabinets to counter tops.
The policy needed will vary depending on your circumstance - are you insuring a townhouse-style condo, a highrise apartment-style condo, or a standalone detached condo? What kind of master policy is in place for the condo?
The following section will help guide you to learn important facts when searching for the best condo owner's insurance package for you.
Introduction to Edmonton Condominium Insurance
In Edmonton, most condominium corporation policies will only cover items that are part of the building - for example the common areas, parking lots, elevators, etc. While it's nice to be able to share in these amenities, as an owner, you also assume certain responsibilities and liabilities when things go wrong.
Also, most condo corporation policies will not provide coverage for your personal contents, personal liability, or any upgrades you've done to your unit. So if a burglar breaks in and steals your belongings, or a visitor slips in your unit and sues you, or a fire damages upgraded hardwood flooring and granite countertops that you installed, you could be old of luck without a condominium insurance package to protect you.
What kind of coverages do I need?
To know what kind of insurance package you need, a leading question should be, "What do I actually need to cover?". A good place to start is a review of your condo wordings. Some condo corporations have a Walls-in (also referred to as an All-In policy) that covers everything within the interior of the unit, including the interior surfaces of walls, floors and ceilings of every single individual unit.
A Bare Walls-In policy covers real property, from the framing inward, but will not cover any fixtures or installations (such as your floors, cabinets, or countertops).
Finally, on the other end of the spectrum are Bareland policies, where essentially nothing of the structure is covered whatsoever. In this case, the owner should be purchasing a a homeowner's policy (or equivalent coverage) with full coverage for the building itself in case of a loss.
Basics of a condo policy
Your condo owner's insurance policy can provide protection for many risks, such as:
Personal Property: Also known as contents coverage, this can protect everything from your furniture to your appliances and clothing from perils such as fire, burglary, or vandalism.
Additional Living Expenses: The amount in this section will cover you when you are forced to temporarily live in a hotel or apartment due to an insured loss to your condo. Reasonable expenses above and beyond what you would normally pay for things like food and shelter may be covered.
Liability Coverage: Also known as legal liability, your condo policy can cover you against many different types of claims and lawsuits should a visitor to your home suffer injury as a result or your negligence, or if you accidentally cause damage to others' property. It may even cover you for lawsuits resulting from your dog biting a neighbor.
Unit Improvements and Betterments: This coverage will protect any additional improvements or upgrades done by you that increase the value of the unit which are not recoverable under the condo corporation's policy.
Loss Assessment: Should your condo corporation policy be inadequate to cover damages or liability claims incurred to a common area, a special assessment could be issued to condo owners. This coverage could protect you against those assessments caused by certain perils.
Unit Additional Protection: This coverage will help to rebuild your unit in certain cases where the condo corporation's insurance is inadequate.