Understanding Your Insurance Policy's Fine-Print What You Need to Know about Riders

Surprise. Surprise. The major storm events we’ve experienced in New England may give condo owners and trustees a very good reason to look at the insurance coverage for all of their association properties. While protection for major incidents like flooding is important, more mundane issues like adequate overall coverage are also important.

While most unit owners, trustees and board members have a good grasp of the major insurance coverages they are paying for to protect their buildings and property (such as homeowners, liability and umbrella) other, more specialized types of insurance are also items to learn something about. Some of these coverages could be valuable, or even essential, for trustees and board members to understand. After all, they have an obligation to be the fiduciary watchdogs of the community.

Some unit owners, unfortunately, are even unaware they need an HO6 policy, believing that the association’s master policy will give them complete protection. Jeff Grosser, vice president of Rodman Insurance Company in Needham, Massachusetts, says, “When I attend meetings with unit owners, I’ll ask, ‘who doesn’t have an HO6 policy?’ and a few hands will be raised.”

Condo owners need to know what’s in the association’s master policy and what is not, so as to ensure adequate coverage for their units. Brendon Kilcoyne, CIC, at H&K Insurance Agency in Watertown, Massachusetts, has been selling condo insurance for the past 10 years. He points out that there are two ways of writing a master policy; a ‘named perils’ policy and an ‘all perils’ policy. “The named perils policy lists the perils that are covered, and everything else is excluded. The all perils policy covers all perils unless they are explicitly excluded,” he says. While most companies write an all perils policy, Kilcoyne points out that even that policy excludes earthquakes, floods, vermin, termites, bed bugs and squirrels getting into the wiring.

When Disaster Strikes

Some associations may purchase a separate policy for floods and an endorsement for earthquakes, while the other issues are typically up to the unit owner to decide whether to obtain coverage. “Most of Massachusetts is in an earthquake zone,” says Kilcoyne. “We had one in Maine last year and another in Connecticut in 2011.” Grosser says earthquake riders for condos vary from company to company and generally range from $20-$100.


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  • Condominium associations can't be held liable for workers compensation insurance when not held by contractors since they aren't in the construction business. Therefore a work comp policy held by an association is worthless unless it has employees. The injured worker can still sue an association when the employer does not carry it. All hired contractors need to carry their own work comp policy.