Updated December 21, 2021|3 min read
A condo unit doesn’t need nearly the same amount of structural coverage as that of a single-family home, so coverage is written differently — one to four-family dwellings are insured with HO-3 and HO-5 home insurance policies, while condo and co-op units are insured with HO-6 condo insurance. While there are some similarities between the two policy types, there are also some key differences that we’ll highlight in this guide.
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The main difference between homeowners insurance and condo or co-op insurance is how much property you’re responsible for covering.
When you own a house, you’re responsible for everything on your property — the home’s structure, the land on which it sits, and everything inside the home — which means you’re on the hook for any property damage or injuries that occur on the premises. But when you own a condo, you’re only responsible for your individual unit and your belongings inside.
|Condo insurance||Homeowners insurance|
|How dwelling coverage differs||Responsible for interior of condo unit||Responsible for entire structure of home|
|How other structures coverage differs||Not included in condo insurance||Responsible for additional structures on your property|
|How personal property coverage differs||Responsible for insuring personal belongings inside and outside of condo unit||Responsible for insuring personal belongings inside and outside of home|
|How loss of use coverage differs||Coverage limit is 50% of Coverage C (personal property) limit||Coverage limit is 30% of Coverage A (dwelling coverage) limit|
|What you're covered against||16 named perils for both interior of condo and personal property||Open perils for home's structure, 16 named perils for personal property|
|Average cost in 2022||$506 per year||$1,249 per year|
Homeowners insurance and condo insurance are virtually identical policies — both protect your home and your belongings from damage or burglary. The main difference is the amount of coverage you need.
This provides coverage for the structure of your house or condo unit. Your dwelling coverage limit should be based on the property’s replacement cost. A property’s square footage, number of rooms, and interior fixtures (cabinets, countertops, etc) all contribute to its replacement cost.
When you own a condo or co-op, the dwelling coverage limit in your personal condo or co-op insurance policy should be based on what your association’s master policy does or doesn’t already cover.
To give you a better idea of how much dwelling coverage you need, you’ll need to figure out if the association’s commercial policy provides structural coverage for interior units. There are three main master policies: bare walls, single entity, and all-in coverage.
Bare walls coverage: Only covers the building's structure (like the roof and siding), common areas (like the lobby or pool area) and injuries that occur in shared spaces. Structural coverage does not extend to the interior of condo units.
Single entity coverage: Covers the building's structure, common areas, and injuries that occur in shared spaces, plus coverage for the interior of your condo, like floors, walls, ceilings, fixtures, and cabinetry. It does not cover unit alterations or improvements.
All-in coverage: Covers the building's structure, common areas, and injuries that occur in shared spaces, coverage for the interior of your condo, plus coverage for alterations or improvements.
Genius tip: Understand what your condo association’s policy covers
When you own a condo, you’re essentially protected by two policies: the condo association’s commercial policy, and your personal condo policy. Also called the “master policy”, the association’s commercial insurance covers the building itself, common areas, personal property belonging to the association, and claims for which the association is legally responsible (like an injury in a building common area).
The master policy also sometimes extends to the interior of individual units to cover floors, walls, ceilings, and fixtures within each condo unit. In that case, you’d only be responsible for covering unit improvements, alterations, and personal possessions in your unit. Be sure to check what the master policy covers so that you’re not purchasing too much (or too little) coverage for your personal condo or co-op policy.
Both homeowners and condo insurance protect your personal property from covered damages and theft. Regardless of how broad your association’s master policy may be, it generally never covers the personal belongings inside your condo unit.
Liability coverage protects you against financial loss if you’re sued for bodily injury or property damage. If you own a house, you’re generally exposed to more liability risk since you’re responsible for any accidental injuries that occur on your property. When you own a condo, you’re only responsible for accidents that occur in your individual condo unit. If a building visitor were to get injured in the condo building’s weight room or pool area, the financial responsibility would fall on the condo association, not the unit owners.
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This is a policy add-on that covers losses assessed to condo or homeowners association members after a damage or loss to a building common area. Coverage only applies when the cause of loss is covered by your personal condo or home insurance policy. So if you’re issued a loss assessment for flood damage to the building lobby, you wouldn’t be covered for your portion of the loss.
The cost of insurance is primarily based on the square footage, location, and build of your residence. Since homes are generally bigger and more prone to extensive structural damage, homeowners insurance is generally more expensive than condo insurance.
If you own a second home or rental property, you will need homeowners insurance to cover damage to the residence and your personal belongings. Here’s what you need to know about finding the right second home insurance policy.
If you rent out your home for long periods of time, like for months or a year, you’ll need rental property insurance, also called landlord insurance. Standard home insurance doesn't cover long-term rental property.
Condo insurance protects the interior of your condo and your personal belongings when they're damaged or stolen.