Q

What is condo insurance (HO-6) & what does it cover?

A

Condo insurance protects the interior of your condo and your personal belongings when they're damaged or stolen.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

By 

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor and licensed home insurance agent at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

 & Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Updated April 6, 2022 | 5 min read

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As a condo owner, you’ll need a condo insurance policy — similar to homeowners insurance — to protect the interior of your condominium unit and the personal belongings inside. Condo insurance also includes personal liability coverage that pays for damages if you’re found legally responsible for property damage or injury — like if a guest injures themselves in your home.

Before deciding on condo insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to check what’s already covered by your condo association’s master policy, sometimes called an HOA policy. Your condo insurance policy and master policy are meant to complement each other.

Key Takeaways

  • Condo insurance covers the property in your condo unit, like your belongings and appliances.

  • Condo insurance can also help cover legal costs if you’re found responsible for a guest’s injury or damage to someone else’s property.

  • Condo owners also have condo association master policies, which cover the exterior structure of a condo building, as well as common areas like the building lobby, hallways, and recreation areas.

  • How much condo insurance coverage you need is directly impacted by your condo’s master policy.

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What does condo insurance (HO-6) cover?

1. Dwelling coverage

Dwelling coverage protects the structure of the condo unit itself and upgrades that you made, like your built-in appliances and custom hardwood flooring. 

The extent of how much dwelling coverage you need depends on what’s already covered by your HOA master policy. If you have the most thorough type of master policy — called all-in coverage — you may not need to include dwelling coverage in your condo policy. 

➞ Read our full guide to dwelling coverage

Condo insurance (HO-6) vs. condo association insurance

Also known as an HOA master policy, condo association insurance generally covers all common areas of the condominium building, like a lounge or recreational room, as well as providing varying levels of protection for the interior structure of your condo unit, depending on the policy type. 

Some master policies offer more dwelling coverage for your unit than others. What type of master policy you have will directly impact how much dwelling coverage you need to purchase. Master policies don’t include personal property or loss of use coverage — but your personal condo insurance policy does.

2. Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage covers your belongings, like your clothing, appliances, furniture, and electronics if they’re damaged, stolen, or destroyed by a covered peril, like a fire, tornado, vandalism, or windstorm.

➞ Read our full guide to personal property coverage

3. Loss of use coverage

Loss of use coverage pays for  additional living expenses — like a hotel stay or extra gas money — if your home becomes unsafe to live in after a covered loss and you’re forced to temporarily relocate. 

➞ Read our full guide to loss of use coverage

4. Loss assessment coverage 

If the condo’s shared spaces or building exterior is damaged and there were some remaining costs after the master policy paid out, loss assessment coverage can help pay for those remaining costs so you don’t have to pay out of pocket. 

Here’s an example.

Say your master policy contains $500,000 in coverage for the condo building and it’s damaged in a fire that amounts to $525,000. That remaining $25,000 will be charged to all the condo owners in the building. If you have loss assessment coverage, it can help cover your share of it. 

➞ Read our full guide to loss assessment coverage

5. Personal liability coverage

Personal liability coverage can help pay for expensive medical or legal fees if you’re responsible for someone else’s injury or damage to their property, like if a friend slips and falls inside your condo or if you accidentally drop a window AC unit on your neighbor’s porch. 

Lawsuits and hospital bills can add up, so you’ll want to make sure you have enough coverage to protect all of your financial assets in case of the unthinkable.If you want more personal liability coverage than what’s offered by your insurance company, you can get a personal umbrella policy to increase your liability limits.

➞ Read our full guide to personal liability coverage

6. Medical payments coverage

Pays for more minor medical expenses — like an X-ray or ambulance ride — if someone is injured in your condo, regardless of who is at fault. 

→ Read our full guide to medical payments coverage

What types of damage does condo insurance cover?

Below are the perils covered by standard condo insurance. If the interior of your condo unit or your personal belongings are damaged by any of the following hazards, you can likely file a claim with your condo insurance company. 

  • Fire and lightning

  • Windstorm and hail

  • Explosions

  • Riots

  • Damage by aircraft

  • Damage by vehicle (not your own)

  • Smoke damage

  • Vandalism

  • Theft

  • Falling objects

  • Weight of ice, snow, and sleet

  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam — like a burst pipe

  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, bulging, cracking, and burning

  • Freezing

  • Power surges or short circuit damage

  • Volcanic eruption

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What does a condo association or HOA master policy cover?

When you live in a condo you belong to a homeowners association (HOA), which means you’re responsible for paying monthly HOA membership fees. The fees go towards the upkeep to common areas and shared spaces, as well as towards the community’s HOA master policy to protect the building and shared areas.

Regardless of how limited or comprehensive your HOA master policy is, you can expect the following to be covered:

  • The exterior structure of the condominium building 

  • The building’s common areas — including exercise rooms, hallways, lobbies, swimming pools, and outdoor pavilions 

  • The land surrounding the condo building 

As we touched on earlier, the amount of dwelling coverage you’ll need in your own condo insurance policy will depend on how much coverage is already included in the master policy. Generally, master policies come in three varieties, and all have varying levels of structural protection for the interior of your condo.

1. Bare walls coverage

  • Bare walls coverage  is the least comprehensive type of master insurance policy

  • Covers the structure of the condo building and damage to common areas and personal property that belongs to the HOA

  • Usually provides minimal amounts of structural coverage for your condominium unit

  • Coverage typically limited to everything behind its walls and floors, such as the drywall, insulations, framing, wiring, and plumbing 

  • Since it only offers a limited amount of dwelling coverage, you’ll need to purchase more dwelling coverage for your personal condo insurance policy — which means your personal condo insurance will likely be more expensive than if you had the other two types of HOA insurance

2. Single entity coverage (aka walls-in or studs-in coverage)

  • Single entity coverage is the most common type of HOA policy

  • Includes all the same building and common area protection as bare walls policies

  • Coverage for the interior structure of your unit extends to the outside of the walls, top flooring, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, and any part of the unit that is unaltered as of your move-in date 

3. All-in coverage

  • All-in coverage is the most comprehensive coverage type

  • Covers the entire interior structure of your condo, including unit improvements, alterations, and appliances. 

  • If your condo association has an all-in master insurance policy, you likely won’t need to add any dwelling coverage to your personal condo insurance policy — which means your personal condo insurance premiums will likely be cheaper

How much does condo insurance cost?

The average cost of condo insurance nationwide is $506 per year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). [1] Your condo insurance rates will depend on the location of your condo, its square footage and build, and how much coverage is in your HOA master policy. 

Here are the average annual condo insurance rates in each state, according to the NAIC.

StateAverage annual condo insurance costStateAverage annual condo insurance cost
Alabama$541Montana$382
Alaska$396Nebraska$355
Arizona$400Nevada$424
Arkansas$539New Hampshire$332
California$535New Jersey$450
Colorado$417New Mexico$397
Connecticut$399New York$553
D.C.$369North Carolina$456
Delaware$431North Dakota$320
Florida$964Ohio$319
Georgia$493Oklahoma$631
Hawaii$310Oregon$364
Idaho$420Pennsylvania$385
Illinois$398Rhode Island$500
Indiana$354South Carolina$500
Iowa$295South Dakota$307
Kansas$439Tennessee$473
Kentucky$390Texas$790
Louisiana$748Utah$269
Maine$342Vermont$345
Maryland$310Virginia$352
Massachusetts$444Washington$374
Michigan$369West Virginia$313
Minnesota$312Wisconsin$280
Mississippi$600Wyoming$379
Missouri$416U.S. Average$506

Condo insurance companies

Most major homeowners insurance companies offer HO-6 condo insurance policies, including:

Optional condo insurance coverage

Condo insurance and master policies come with certain exclusions, meaning types of damage that aren’t covered. You may want to consider purchasing additional policies or adding the below coverages to your condo policy. 

Flood insurance

Condo insurance doesn’t cover water damage from flooding. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes or flood damage, you should consider purchasing flood insurance.

Earthquake insurance

Condo insurance also doesn’t cover earthquake damage. You may be able to add earthquake coverage to your condo policy for an additional premium, or purchase a standalone earthquake insurance policy

Second home insurance

Condo insurance is designed for owner-occupied homes. If your condo is vacant for more than 30 days, condo insurance may not cover a loss that occurs during that time. If your condo is a second or vacation home, you’ll need second home insurance

Short-term rental coverage

A base home or condo policy won’t cover your residence if you use it for business purposes, including renting it out as anAirbnb. If you plan to rent your condo out, even only on a part-time basis, you should consider adding short-term rental coverage to your property. You may also be able to purchase short term rental insurance through speciality carriers. 

Water backup coverage

Water damage from sump pump or drain backups isn’t covered by condo insurance. You can add water backup coverage to your condo policy to protect you from this type of damage.

How to save on condo insurance

If you feel that you’re paying too much for condo insurance, here are several ways you can lower your rates to a price that works for you:

  • Re-shop your condo insurance policy. Consider re-shopping your condo insurance on an annual basis to ensure you’re not missing out on bigger savings with a different company. Policygenius agents can help you compare multiple insurers at once, purchase your new policy, and cancel your old one. 

  • Choose a higher policy deductible. Your deductible is the amount you’e responsible for paying out of pocket before insurance kicks in. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premiums are.  Just make sure you don’t raise your deductible to a price that you can’t afford to pay out of pocket. 

  • Look into policy discounts. If you have protective devices in your condo, such as a centralized security system or fire alarm, make sure you’re getting credited with lower policy premiums. Insurance companies also offer discounts for paperless billing, senior citizens, and belonging to an HOA.

  • Bundle your condo and auto insurance. If you currently have condo and car insurance through two separate insurers, consider bundling policies with the same company. Policygenius has saved customers an average of $1,250 per year over what they were paying for home and auto insurance.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a condo insurance policy called?

In insurance lingo, condo insurance is referred to as an “HO-6 policy.” A master policy refers to the condo association’s insurance policy that protects the structure of the building, exteriors of condo units, and shared spaces. An HO-6 policy is designed to protect your personal belongings, the interior of your condo, and your personal liability.

What is the difference between home insurance and condo insurance?

Homeowners insurance is designed for people who own standalone homes, whether it’s a house, log cabin, or a mansion with a view. It includes more dwelling coverage than condo insurance, since the homeowner is responsible for the structure of the home and the entire property (whereas a condo association is responsible for the structure of the units, the building, and the land).

→ Take a deeper dive into condo insurance vs. homeowners insurance

Is condo insurance necessary?

Yes, condo insurance is necessary to protect your personal property, any upgrades you made to your condo, and your liability. It also contains coverage for additional living expenses if your condo needs to be repaired after a covered loss. Depending on the type of master policy you have, you may not need to include dwelling coverage in your condo policy.