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condo insurance comparison: structure vs. contents

When it comes to buying condo insurance, it pays to know the difference between "contents" and "structure." We'll list examples of each and explain what you're responsible for covering in your unit.

Condo insurance categories defined

There are relatively few risks condo dwellers have to cover on their own. This is because the HOA you belong to as a condo owner typically protects the condo building itself and common areas like the gym, pool, and lobby.

What condo owners are responsible for is generally everything within the 4 walls of your unit. Unfortunately, you can't insure all your condo property under the same coverage — instead you must differentiate between contents and structure.

Examples of condo structure

Structural property includes the items that are essentially attached to the unit. Imagine your place as a miniature snow globe you could shake up; the structural items would be the trees that don't budge. Here's some condo property that falls under the "structure" category:

  • Flooring
  • Inner walls
  • Light fixtures
  • Cabinetry
  • Countertops
  • Carpeting

Examples of condo contents

Contents, on the other hand, are the personal belongings you bring with you. If we shake up your snow globe condo once more, the contents would be the loose snow that flies everywhere. Condo property that would be considered "contents" includes:

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Appliances
  • Artwork

Choosing the right condo insurance for your condo property

Your condo property will usually be covered by separate coverages — your contents will fall under personal property or contents insurance, while your condo structure will be protected by dwelling or structure insurance.

How much contents insurance do I need?

Replacing or repairing personal belongings that are damaged or stolen is perhaps the main function of your condo insurance — so you'll want to make sure you have enough coverage.

The first step is to take a home inventory of all your stuff. That way you can assign a dollar amount to the combined worth of all your valuables. You'll want your contents insurance to at least meet that dollar amount.

Keep in mind that you might need to take out special insurance riders for rare or expensive items (like fine art, jewelry, or antiques) that exceed the maximum limits of your contents insurance.

How much structure insurance do I need?

Determining how much structure insurance you need isn't always as simple. This is because it hinges largely on what your HOA insurance already covers. If, for instance, your HOA policy is an "all-in" plan, it will likely already include coverage for much of the condo structure in your unit.

If your HOA coverage is a "studs-out" policy, though, it will only cover the main building, leaving you in charge of insuring the structures in your unit. In which case, the amount of structure insurance you purchase should at least match the rebuilding cost of your unit's interior. The rebuilding cost is how much it would take to restore your condo if it were ever completely destroyed.

Make sure to talk with your insurer before deciding on your dwelling coverage. They can help you figure out your unit's rebuilding cost and adjust your limits based on things like your HOA policy and future renovations.

What does your HOA insurance cover?

Personal condo insurance can be different from most insurance you're used to because of its relationship with your HOA coverage. If you want more insight into what your HOA insurance covers and how that impacts your responsibilities, check out these 5 questions condo owners should ask about their HOA coverage.

Ready to arrange protection for your condo property? Start your condo insurance quote today.

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