As homeowner insurance costs continue to escalate in the coastal regions of New England, it has become harder to successfully wade through the morass of deductibles and policy lingo on storm insurance coverage. But with a little knowledge and shopping around, you can balance adequate coverage with reasonable expense, leaving your condo sufficiently protected when storms darken the horizon.
Many condominium or co-op owners are under the mistaken – and often very costly –impression that the association’s insurance policy will be enough to pay for damages incurred by storms. Getting to know the community association bylaws and the master insurance policy is the first step in making sure that unit owners get the proper coverage they need. The master policy’s coverage of condo units can range from “bare walls” – only covering from the outside walls of the individual unit out; to “all-in” coverage – which extends coverage to all permanent fixtures in the unit.
For best coverage, the unit owner’s HO-6 insurance policy should be designed to fill the holes of the master policy. Generally speaking, a basic HO-6 policy covers a unit owner’s personal property, interior walls and floor coverings, improvements and upgrades from a specific list of “covered perils” –things like wind, fire, or flooding from broken pipes, to name a few.
Christine Watson, commercial lines manager with Global Insurance Network Inc. of Needham, Massa-chusetts, also advises unit owners to add what’s called a special coverage endorsement to their HO-6. “It extendsyour coverage from all named perils,” she says.
Know What’s Covered
“It’s extremely important for unit owners to know their association’s bylaws,” stresses Scott Kerry, owner of Kerry Insurance on Cape Cod. “You need to get to the very essence of who owns what and who is responsible for what in the event of damage.” If the master policy only covers units to the wall studs, for example, the unit owner is then responsible for everything beyond that, including the sheetrock, paint or wallpaper. If the roof gets blown off in a storm, the master policy may cover the roof repair, but not the water damage that subsequently ruined your ceiling, walls, or kitchen cabinets.