Congratulations! You’re living the dream in sunny Florida and have set up home in your condo. Now, protect what you’ve worked so hard for by learning how to purchase condominium insurance in the Sunshine State.
Know Your Master Policy
Before you get started, you’ll want to get a copy of the master insurance policy from your condo association. It is likely a “bare walls” policy, covering the structure of the building (walls, roof, etc.) and common areas (lobby, hallways, elevators, gym, pool, etc.). Sometimes, a condo’s master policy is what’s known as an “all in” policy, where it will also cover some permanent features inside individual units, such as flooring, inner walls, plumbing, and electrical systems, although this is less common because it costs more.
No matter what type of policy it is, a condo’s master policy will NEVER cover the belongings of a condo owner contained within their individual unit. This is why it’s critical each condo owner purchase their own condominium insurance. The master policy – and elevation certificate, if you’re considering flood insurance – will let you know what the condo association is responsible for and can help determine how much coverage you’ll need.
Coverage Options for Condo Owners
If you own a condo in Florida, you’ll want condominium insurance. Called an HO-6 policy in the industry, your condo insurance policy options include:
• Dwelling coverage: This coverage will repair or replace, for example, kitchen cabinets, paint/wallpaper, and flooring.
• Personal property: This is for your electronics, appliances, furniture, jewelry, art, clothing, and more.
• Additional living expenses: A loss-of-use provision may assist with the costs of living off-site after a covered loss and while your unit is being repaired.
• Personal liability & medical payments to others: This covers legal and medical expenses if you’re found liable for a guest being injured (e.g., a slip and fall) or their property damaged while in your unit.
• Animal liability: A type of additional coverage to repay legal/medical costs associated with your pet injuring a guest in the condo (e.g., dog bites and related injuries). Some breeds may be excluded.
• Flood insurance: Rising waters – aka flooding – isn’t covered by a standard condo policy; it can protect against the worst-case scenario.
• Umbrella coverage: An absolute must for high-price valuables such as expensive or one-of-a-kind jewelry, art, musical instruments, and the like.
• Identity theft protection: This coverage assigns you a case manager and reimburses you for expenses when you are a victim of identity theft fraud.
Common adverse events typically covered by a condominium insurance policy include fire, hurricanes and windstorms, hail, lightning, some types of water damage, as well as theft and vandalism.
How to Determine Coverage Limits
The amount of coverage you need will depends on the value of what you own. How much would it cost to replace everything you own at today’s costs? It’s a good place to start. Some options (personal property, loss-of-use) are tied to how much dwelling coverage you get. For example, you may be able to obtain personal property coverage for 25% - 75% of the amount of dwelling coverage you’re getting.
Is Flooding a Concern in a Condo?
While you may live in a condo unit high above ground level, flood insurance remains important coverage for condo dwellers in Florida. This is because there is a high frequency of hurricanes and flood events throughout the state, due to Florida’s geographic location, low elevation, and tropical climate.
Even if rising water doesn’t make it up to your condo unit, a storm surge, excessive rainfall, or backed-up drainage can cause flooding. This flooding could damage the building’s infrastructure or lower-level units – potentially making the entire building uninhabitable.
Loss-of-use coverage only kicks in after a type of loss you’re insured for, so you would need flood insurance to be eligible for additional living expense reimbursement while repairs are being made in the above scenario. In addition, your condo association may assess you for a portion of the cost of repairs if they are insufficiently insured for flood damage. Depending on the details contained in your policy, having flood insurance could help offset this type of assessment.
What Affects Insurance Cost
Insuring a condo in Florida is often significantly cheaper than insuring a house.
Factors influencing how much you pay for your condominium insurance include:
• Your credit score and claims history
• The condo’s age, location, and condition
• Presence of harm-mitigating factors, such as storm shutters, roof shape, monitored security systems and fire alarms
• Deductible amount and coverage limits you select
• Whether you’re adding on additional coverages (e.g., flood insurance)
• Choosing replacement cost (it’s better coverage than actual cash value, so also more expensive)
If you carry a mortgage on the condo, your financial lender may look at additional factors, such as the financial health of the condo association, percentage of owner-occupied units, and how much insurance the association carries.
Is Condominium Insurance Required?
There is no law requiring you insure your Florida condo. However, your financial lender may require condominium insurance to obtain a mortgage loan. In some cases, your condo association may require it.
Protect Your Florida Home With Condo Insurance
Condominium insurance is especially valuable in hurricane-prone Florida. To find out more about the type of coverage you need to protect your condo and everything in it, contact your Edison Insurance agent now – or simply get a quote. At Edison Insurance, keeping you, your family, and the place you call home safe and protected is our No. 1 priority.