The importance of insuring one’s personal property is rarely grounds for debate, as people regularly make out checks in varying sums for policies they hope they will never have to make use of. And in theory, the concept is simple: You buy insurance, something is damaged, insurance pays for the damage.
When it comes to those who dwell in condo buildings, however, what at first seems simple can grow quite complex.
Imagine this: A fire tears through your building, burning it to the ground, all its contents destroyed. Or a blizzard brings with it such heavy winds and rain that your roof cracks under the weight and water damages your antique couch beyond repair. You’ve received a copy of your building’s insurance policy (whether or not you’ve made it through the entire document is another story) and you think you’re covered. Right? Not quite.
Two types of insurance come into play here—building insurance, and homeowner’s insurance. Both are necessary in order to ensure preservation of your home and property, both are subject to a host of different conditions, and both place the burden of responsibility on unit owners, property managers, homeowner’s associations and insurance agents alike.
“Many homeowners think their building’s master policy covers all of their possessions,” says Jack Connolly, of Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly Insurance Agency in Somerville, Massachusetts. “It does not. Your personal property is your personal responsibility. You have to have your own coverage—and you have to understand it.”