Like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, condo insurance is one of those topics that remains shrouded in mystery for many Canadians. In this article, we’ll tackle some of the most common condo insurance myths and set the record straight once and for all.
Fact: Your strata policy only provides protection for the building and the common areas. It’s not designed to protect you, your belongings, any improvements you've made to your condo or townhouse, or assessments made against you as the condo owner.
Fact: Your strata corporation’s master policy covers the shared space such as swimming pools, the lobby, rooftop patio or gym. However, their policy may have a very large deductible that owners can be responsible for. Some condos in Vancouver have deductibles as high as $200,000 and in many situations, you could be liable for your portion of the deductible and, in some situations, the full deductible. Or if there is a large liability claim against your strata and the strata corporation’s policy doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the claim, each owner could be held responsible for a portion of the claim payment. A personal condo/townhouse policy can help provide coverage for these situations.
Fact: Policies can vary greatly among insurers, especially when it comes to the big-ticket items such as strata deductible and assessment coverages, water damage coverage, living allowances and earth quake options.
Fact: There can be limits on what is covered by your personal policy. Most condo/townhouse insurance policies have a special limit for high-end items like jewelry, bikes, or original art. You may need to increase your coverage limit or buy a separate policy to cover the full amount for big ticket items. Be prepared to prove the value with an appraisal or receipt.
Fact: If you or a previous owner have made changes or upgrades to your condo, such as adding hardwood floor or renovating your kitchen, you need to make sure you tell your insurance provider. Otherwise, if you have a claim your insurance company may only fix the unit to its original state. Every policy is different so make sure to check with your insurance provider to find out your amount of coverage.
Fact: Generally speaking, coverage for damage caused by sewer backups or overland water (including overflow from lakes and rivers, heavy rain and spring run-off) is not automatically included in most home or condo insurance policies – but it’s often available as an add-on.
Now that we’ve busted these common myths, you can see how important condo or townhouse insurance really is if you want to protect your home and your belongings.
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