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Condominium Insurance

The standard New York condo insurance policy includes insurance coverage for the following.

  1. Insurance for your personal belongings.
  2. Insurance for the structure of your apartment.
  3. Liability insurance.
  4. Additional living expenses in the event you're temporarily unable to live in your home because of a fire or other insured loss. In such case your condominium policy may help pay for you to live in a hotel or a comparable apartment for up to one year. This alone makes condo insurance worth having.

1. Condo Insurance for your personal belongings.

Your clothing, furniture, computer, and other personal belongings are covered if they are destroyed by fire, stolen, or damaged by other insured hazards. Generally, you specify a limit of insurance. You can determine the limit of insurance by conducting a home inventory. You also have the option to purchase off-premises coverage which covers your belongings outside your home or when you are away anywhere in the world.

Expensive items including jewelry, furs and silverware are covered, but there are usually dollar sub limits if they are stolen. In general, you are covered for only $1,000 for all of your jewelry and furs. To insure these and other expensive items to their full value you must purchase a scheduled personal property endorsement and insure each item for its appraised value, or increase the sub limits .

2. Condo Insurance for the structure of your apartment.

To adequately insure your apartment, it is important to know which structural parts of your home are covered by the condo/coop association "master insurance policy". You can do this by reading your association’s bylaws and/or proprietary lease.

Sometimes the association is responsible for insuring the individual condo or coop units as they were originally built, including standard fixtures. In this case, the individual owner is responsible for alterations to the original structure of the apartment. Examples include upgraded kitchen or bathrooms, or any other permanently installed improvements made at your expense. Sometimes this can include improvements made by previous owners.

In other situations, the condo/coop association is responsible only for insuring the bare walls, floor and ceiling. The owner must insure kitchen cabinets, built-in appliances, plumbing, wiring, bathroom fixtures etc.

A "master insurance policy" provided by the condo/coop association usually covers the common areas you share with others in your building like the roof, basement, elevator, boiler and walkways for both liability and physical damage.

3. Condo Liability insurance.

Liability insurance covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards up to the limit of your policy. It does not provide liability protection for lawsuits arising from the use of motor vehicles, business related lawsuits and certain other types of losses.

Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Experts recommend that you purchase at least $500,000 worth of protection. Some people feel more comfortable with even more coverage.

Your policy also provides med-pay medical coverage. In the event a friend or neighbor is injured in your home, they can submit medical bills to your insurance company without a liability claim being filed against you. You can generally get $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this coverage. It does not pay the medical bills for your family or your pet.

4. Additional living expense or loss-of-use

This pays the additional costs of living away from home if you can't live there due to damage from a fire, storm or other insured loss. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt. Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for a specified dollar amount while others provide an unlimited amount of loss-of-use coverage, but for a limited amount of time.

There are generally two ways claims are paid

  • Replacement Cost– pays the actual cost of replacing your home or possessions (no deduction for depreciation) up to the limit of your policy
  • Actual Cash Value – pays to replace your home or possessions minus a deduction for depreciation up to the limit of your policy.
  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Lightning
  • Theft
  • Malicious Mischief
  • Wind & Hail
  • Explosion
  • Falling Objects
  • Vandalism / Riot
  • Freezing of plumbing or heating systems
  • Water damage from rupture of water or steam heating systems

Exactly what do you have to lose in personal property?

First, go through each room in your condo and list the items that you feel are of value. Even the small items you own, when added together, could amount to a great deal of money.

How much do you stand to lose - in dollars?

Now, you can estimate the approximate current value of each item. Total the value of each room and, finally, figure the grand total of your personal possessions. You may be surprised at how much you have.

Could you describe, in detail, each piece of property you own?

Personal items can be identified with a photograph. In fact, a photograph of each room can help in determining the full magnitude of your loss. It is a good idea to store these pictures in another location in case of fire.