is water damage covered by my condo insurance?
Water damage can be one of the stickier perils for condo owners, but we don't want anyone to feel hung out to dry after a claim. Learn about the various forms of condo water damage so you'll know when you likely will (and won't) be covered.
Water damage in your condo building
Here's a nifty secret to condo living: it can really simplify your home insurance needs. That's because your homeowners association, which you belong to with your fellow condo dwellers, carries master HOA insurance that covers threats to your building and its common areas.
So if water damages things like the lobby, elevators, building exterior, parking garage, or other shared spaces, it's often not something individual unit owners have to worry about!
Water damage in your unit
Condo water damage in the individual unit is typically the responsibility of the condo owner, not the HOA. As you'll see, whether or not you're covered under your personal condo insurance depends on the source of your water damage.
When you're usually covered by condo insurance
- Burst pipe
If water suddenly starts spraying out of your kitchen sink, for example, that's something your condo insurance can often take care of.
- Water backup
An overflowing toilet or shower drain in your place would likely be covered under the water backup coverage portion of your condo insurance.
- Water from common area
Say you live in a top-floor condo and water drips through a leaky roof, damaging your furniture. Who pays for this? Since the roof is owned by the HOA, ideally the HOA insurance would cover the whole thing. Sadly, that's not always the case. Your personal condo insurance may have to be used to repair the inside of your unit, while the HOA coverage fixes the roof.
If the water is proven to be a result of negligence on the HOA's part, you may be able to cover everything through its master policy.
When you might not be covered by condo insurance
Many condo insurance policies exclude flooding from their list of covered perils. Flooding usually denotes water that hits the ground first and then rises into your place, such as you might get from a hurricane or mudslide.
- Water damage beginning in another unit
If your water damage actually originates in another condo owner's unit, sorting out the claim isn't always easy. Your HOA and your condo insurer may avoid getting involved, in which case you'd need to go through the other condo owner's insurance. Make sure to talk (nicely, of course!) with your neighbors — discuss the situation and gather their coverage info to make sure the matter gets settled.
Flood protection from the National Flood Insurance Program
You can supplement your coverage with flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance will help make sure heavy rains, storms, hurricanes, and all sorts of other disasters don't leave you up a creek.