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3 common loss assessment coverage claims for condo owners

When you buy condo insurance, you'll likely have the option of adding loss assessment coverage. We'll explain what this coverage is, why it's more valuable than you might think, and when you'll be thrilled to have it.

What is loss assessment coverage?

Loss assessment coverage is protection condo owners can use on claims involving the building or its common areas. In most condo communities, your homeowners association (HOA) has its own insurance that covers incidents outside of your personal unit. However, these claims sometimes exceed the HOA master policy limits. If that's the case, you and your fellow condo dwellers might be asked to step in and make up the difference. Condo loss assessment coverage can help you avoid paying out of pocket when a common area claim requires your individual assistance.

Potential hazards for condo owners

Sure, loss assessment coverage sounds important, but will it really ever come into play? You might be surprised at the costly perils that can happen to or in a condo building — and just how quickly you might be called on for help.

1. There's been major weather damage to the outside of the building

Let's say hail or wind strip away major parts of the building, leaving $550,000 in needed repairs. Problem is, your HOA master policy only carries $500,000 in property damage coverage. In which case, the HOA might assess the extra $50,000 to the condo owners — if you're in (for the sake of easy math) a 50-unit building, that's $1,000 you have to cough up. Loss assessment coverage can usually cover that cost for you, helping make sure untimely damage doesn't put unexpected strain on your personal finances.

2. Someone's been injured in a common area

Chances are you don't spend too much time worrying about what happens to the visitors who come in and out of your building — many of whom you don't know and never see. But because your HOA is in charge of the common areas of the condo community, you have a partial responsibility for whatever happens to guests on the property.

If someone breaks a leg on the tennis court, has a mishap in the pool area, or simply slips on the front entrance to the lobby, their injury bills could exceed the HOA liability coverage. Luckily, loss assessment coverage can cover your end of things (up to your limits) and help you avoid being left on the hook for an injured guest's medical fees.

3. Shared property inside the building has been damaged

At times, living in a condo probably feels similar to living in an apartment. One big difference, though, is that in an apartment building, the shared and structural items of the building (usually) belong to a landlord or management company. In a condo, on the other hand, you and your fellow residents jointly own the property yourselves.

So if a fire, explosion, or other covered loss damages the elevators, lobby, carpeting, inner walls, etc., you might be asked to shoulder part of the load in repairing them if the cost goes beyond the HOA master policy limits. Loss assessment coverage helps you keep the building running and make the fixes you and your neighbors can't do without.

How much loss assessment coverage do I need?

When deciding how much condo loss assessment coverage to get, you should first take a close look at your HOA master policy. This will shed light on what the HOA is responsible for versus what you're responsible for, how high their coverage limits go, and whether they have special deductibles for certain hazards.

As a general guideline, it's best to get as much loss assessment protection as you can comfortably afford for the greatest peace of mind against unpredictable mishaps. Grab a free condo insurance quote today to start planning your policy.

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