Condominium Insurance In California
Your California condo isn’t just a home; it’s an investment. Protect it with an HO-6 policy that begins where your condo association’s insurance policy ends. Condo owners in California are responsible for insuring the interior walls of their home, as well as their personal belongings. And coverage for some other things—like exterior windows—varies on a case-by-case basis.
While the external areas of your condo will fall under the jurisdiction of your home owner’s association and will be covered by their policy, an HO-6 policy will cover losses from the inside of your condo. Depending on the type of policy your association holds, your condo policy may include coverage for:
- Your appliances
- Your personal property/valuables
- Interior walls
In addition to covering your personal property in the event of a covered loss, your HO-6 policy can also provide coverage for any liability claims if you are responsible for injuries, property damage or have to pay legal fees from a lawsuit.
What Exactly Does Condo Insurance Cover?
Typically, an HO-6 policy will cover what your condominium association’s master policy won’t cover. Within the condo insurance’s master policy, there are two types of coverage options:
- A “bare walls-in” condo policy: This policy will not cover anything contained within your walls and in most instances, it may or may not cover your condo’s plumbing and electrical systems. Typically, things like bathroom and kitchen fixtures, granite countertops, and flooring are not covered with this type of policy. This is why it is very important to carefully review the association’s master policy to find out what exactly your specific condo insurance policy needs to cover.
- An “all-in” condo master policy: Also known as a “single-unit” master policy, this type of policy covers the fixtures in your condo such as the appliances, wiring, plumbing, and carpets, but does not cover personal property that you own.
If your association only carries a “bare walls-in” policy, then you will need to buy more coverage on your personal condo insurance policy.
Your HO-6 policy will cover you for losses or damages to your personal property and coverage for personal liability and medical payments. It can also cover loss of use in the event that your condominium becomes badly damaged by a fire or storm and you need to live elsewhere during repairs. You also have the option with these policies to purchase additional coverage for specific personal items such as jewelry, artwork or other valuable items that you may want to insure.
Who Are the Best Most Responsive, Homeowners Insurance Carriers?
There are over 150 California admitted insurance companies that do business in our State. So just like the condo you live in, your ideal insurance coverage is going to be unique to your circumstances, your preferences, and your needs. As a result, you need an insurance agency that offers a large variety of vetted carriers so you can find you the best policy for the best price. Here is a list of the top 54 insurance companies by market share, as of 2016, in no particular order:
- American Modern
- Amica Mutual
- Bankers Standard
- California Capital
- Century National
- Civil Service Employees
- Fireman’s Fund
- Foremost Insurance
- General Ins
- Horace Mann P & C
- Liberty Ins Corp
- Mercury Ins Group
- Pacific Property And Casualty
- QBE (Balboa)
- Sequoia (Personal Express)
- Stillwater Ins Co
- Tokio Marine America
- Unigard Group
- AIG Prop Cas
- American Reliable
- CSAA Ins Exch
- California Casualty
- Coastal Select Ins Co
- Farmers (Fire Ins)
- First American Specialty
- Foremost Property and Casualty
- Hartford (Sentinel)
- Horace Mann
- IDS Property Casualty
- MAPFRE Group
- Metropolitan Direct
- Oregon Mutual
- Pacific Specialty
- State Farm
- Stillwater Prop & Cas Co
- Universal North America
- Western Mutual/Residence
What Perils are Generally Covered by an HO-6 Policy?
An HO-6 is a named perils insurance policy. This means that only the items specifically listed on the policy are covered. If an event occurs and there are damages to the property that are not listed on the named perils list of the policy, then the HO-6 will not cover those damages. The following 16 perils are what are most commonly covered on an HO-6 policy:
- Fire and Lightning
- Sudden & Accidental Tearing, Buldging, Cracking, or Burning
- Volcanic Eruption
- Weight of Snow, Ice, or Sleet
- Windstorm or Hail
- Vandalism or Malicious Mischief
- Falling Objects
- Damage from Electrical Current
- Accidental Discharge or Overflow of Water/Stream
What Perils are Generally Excluded by My Condo Policy?
The most common exclusions on a standard HO-6 insurance policy are flood, mold, earthquake, “wear and tear”, and earth movement. When an insurer writes your HO-6 policy, California law states that they are also obligated to offer you earthquake coverage every year for an additional premium. The earthquake coverage may be written through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), directly by the insurer, or by a separate provider.
Other common exclusions include:
- Insects, rats or mice
- Earth movement
- Ordinance or law
- Water damage caused by seepage or leaks
- Losses to vacant condo for 60+ days
- Wear and tear or maintenance
- Intentional loss
- Nuclear hazard
- Tidal wave
What Discounts are Available for My Condominium Insurance Policy in California?
You can score major discounts for things like having an alarm system, emergency sprinklers, well-maintained walkways, and up-to-date wiring. If you can show that you’re home is less of a risk, they’ll reward you by lowering your premiums. The list below can help you figure out what discounts you’re already eligible for—and advise you on what you can do to lower your insurance costs even more.
- Multi-Policy Discount
- Group Affiliation Discount
- Claims Free Discount
- Early Signing Discount
- Automatic Payments Discount
- Senior Discount
- Hardwired Smoke Detector Discount
- Gated Community Discount
- Earthquake Retrofit Discount
- Pay-in-Full Discount
- Non-Smoker Discount
- Protective Devices Discount
- Insured to Value Discount
- Newly Purchased Condo Discount
- Newly Renovated Condo Discount
- Age of Construction Discount
- Marriage Discount
- Bundling Discount
- Preventative Maintenance Discounts
- Renewal Discount
- Career Related Discount
- Fire Sprinklers Discount
What Are the Differences Between an HO-6 Policy and a Homeowner’s Policy?
Although condo insurance and homeowner’s insurance share many similarities, there are a few areas where an HO-6 policy deviates in coverage. The most notable differences are how the ‘Dwelling’ and ‘Other Structures’ come into play and are calculated. The amount of coverage needed for a standard homeowner’s policy would be much greater.
For example, when a person owns their home, they are responsible for far more of the repairs in the event of a loss. They would be responsible for not only the upkeep of their home (actual dwelling), but also the front yard, back yard, etc. (grounds) as well as all other buildings on the property (pools, fences, garages, mailboxes, etc). With the fence being the only exception (may be a shared with neighbors), the owner is fully responsible for all upkeep and repair of their home.
A condo owner, on the other hand, is only responsible for the property that they fully own. This means that although they may have full use to all the amenities that their association has to offer (pool, gym, rec room, etc), they do not technically have full ownership, so they are not responsible for repairs or damages caused in the event of a covered loss. For example, a condo owner wouldn’t be allowed to kick another owner out of the pool area or weight room simply because they wanted their privacy. These are shared amenities and neither would have exclusive rights.
Most condominium owners only fully own the inside of their condo. Everything from the “studs-in” would be part of the condo owner’s responsibility – floors, walls ceilings. This means that the roof, mailbox areas and community pool are all part of the association and would fall under their master policy.
Now that we understand the major coverage differences between an HO-6 policy and a standard homeowner’s policy, it is a little easier to see why an HO-6 requires a relatively lower amount of Dwelling coverage. The owner of a 2000 square foot home needs enough coverage to not only replace the interior of the home, but also the exterior walls, roof, heating/cooling system, etc. The owner of a 2000 square foot condo, however, only needs to worry about insuring the interior of their home. This means that they do not need to worry about the exterior walls, roof, or heating/cooling system. This will fall under the association’s master policy.
In an HO-6 policy, the ‘Other Structures’ coverage is calculated similarly to that of ‘Dwelling’ coverage. The main difference is that condo owners typically won’t have any other structures to insure.
For example, if the pool clogs, the community mailboxes break, or even the roof of the building that is shared with nearby owners needs to be repaired, the association is responsible for the repairs. Since most condo owners do not have any other buildings that they own within an association, there typically isn’t a need for Other Structures coverage.
Custom Coverage For Your California Condo
Larger agencies may not be familiar with the quirks of California insurance law. Plus, they don’t have access to the same kinds of deals we do. You’re a Californian. Don’t trust your condo to an agency that isn’t. From premiums to deductibles to claims, our agents are your super-savvy guides to the world of California condo insurance.
Personal Attention—As Part of Our Home
At Shift Insurance, we won’t sell you a policy and disappear. We keep looking to make sure you’re getting the highest quality insurance at the most competitive price—and we’ll check in with you if we think there’s something better out there for you. If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of your insurance policy, we’re here for you. A home is made up of the people who care about each other–including our clients.
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