Condominiums are obviously not the same thing as a house. Usually, there’s no backyard or basement, and you don’t have to worry about cutting the grass or shoveling a front walk or driveway.

Insurance is another area where homes and condos differ. Condo owners are typically responsible for insuring just a portion of their property. However, rules differ from complex to complex, and it’s important to read the bylaws and ask the right questions to ensure you have proper insurance coverage.

Owners of condominium units obviously do not own the entire complex. Typically, they own their own unit outright and share ownership of the rest of the complex with all the other owners.  From an insurance point of view, that means all individual unit owners have a collective responsibility for insuring areas of the complex owned in common – landscaping, hallways, the pool area, and the entrance and lobby, etc.  A condominium association typically collects monthly dues from each owner and uses a portion of the funds to insure these common areas.

The condo association’s master policy, as well as association rules, should spell out clearly which parts of the complex are insured through association dues, and which parts are not. It should also discuss the master policy deductible and how that would be assessed against each owner in case of a loss.  A copy of the association’s insurance agreement should be given to each owner at the time of purchase. It specifies the responsibilities of the association and the individual owners.

The unit owner is responsible for separately insuring everything within the four walls of his or her individual unit.  When insuring your condo, make sure you have coverage for both contents and structural items.  Content includes things like furniture, electronics, wardrobe, jewelry, and electronics.  Structural items include cabinetry, countertops, hardwood flooring, wall-to-wall carpeting, and ceiling fans.  The association insurance will rebuild the building, but your personal condo insurance policy will be needed to replace everything within you unit.