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How much condo dwelling coverage do I need?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

As a condo owner, the first thing to know is that your insurance needs are different from the owner of a single-family home. A homeowner of a single-family home needs to insure the entire structure of their house, but as a condo owner, you are only responsible for everything within your unit. Your homeowners association, or HOA, master insurance policy will cover the building itself and shared spaces throughout the community.

When planning your condo insurance policy, one of the first things to consider is your dwelling coverage amount. But what does it mean to insure the interior of your unit, and how much coverage do you actually need?

How much dwelling condo insurance coverage are you responsible for?

To estimate how much condo insurance you need, first consider what your HOA insurance covers. There are two common types of master HOA policies: 

  • Bare walls-in master policy: Also known as a studs-out policy, this master HOA policy covers shared spaces and everything outside the walls of the unit. In this case, the HOA would likely cover damage to your roof, siding and windows, but it would also cover injuries that occurred in common areas, such as a community playground, courtyard and walkways. Condo unit owners are responsible for covering everything inside their unit with their condo dwelling insurance, such as their flooring and cabinets. 
  • All-in master policy: This type of master HOA policy covers the exterior and shared spaces of the unit, as well as some interior features, such as walls, floors, ceilings, original fixtures and appliances. It is more inclusive than a bare walls-in policy. It typically doesn’t cover any improvements or renovations a condo owner added after moving into the home. 

The type of master insurance policy your building has and the extent of its coverage will be outlined in your HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) document. Refer to this document to better understand what you’re responsible for and what you need in a condo insurance policy. 

How do you estimate the amount of condo insurance coverage you need?

To help calculate how much condo dwelling insurance you need, let’s assume your condo only has a bare walls-in policy (because this is the most common for HOAs). 

Calculate how much it would cost to repair or replace the interior of your condo

Start with taking a tour of your space. You’ll need to account for permanently attached features, like cabinets, countertops and flooring. With these details, you’ll want to talk with your insurance agent to help estimate the replacement cost value of your unit, which also considers things like: 

  • Current cost of building materials
  • Debris removal
  • Interior finishings
  • Labor costs
  • Square footage

Your insurance agent will enter the details of your condo into a rating tool, which will help calculate your condo dwelling insurance amount. 

Assess how much you have in personal belongings

When determining your personal property amount on a condo policy, it is different from what you considered when setting your dwelling insurance amount. However, it is equally as important to determine how much personal property coverage you need by adding up the value of all of your possessions. Here are a few things to consider when calculating your personal property coverage:

  • How big is your family’s wardrobe? 
  • What did you pay for your furniture? 
  • What is the cost of your TVs and other electronics?
  • What about the total cost of any sports equipment?
  • How about your decorations, like holiday decorations?

You need a personal property coverage amount high enough to replace all of your possessions in the event of a total loss. But, keep in mind that you do not want to factor in the same items when determining your dwelling coverage and your personal property coverage, otherwise, you may end up overinsuring yourself and paying unnecessary insurance costs.

The takeaway

  • It is important to determine what type of HOA master policy your building has and what it covers. 
  • Calculate the cost of repairing or rebuilding your unit, including any upgraded features.
  • Determine the cost of all your personal belongings, such as clothing, jewelry and electronics, separately from your dwelling amount.
  • You will have more flexibility in choosing your condo insurance coverage limits compared to single-family home insurance, so it’s important to take an inventory of your condo and belongings to avoid leaving yourself underinsured.

When building the right condo insurance policy, take your time. The steps above can help as a guide toward understanding what coverage levels you need. If you still have questions, speak with your HOA and insurance agent to help you make the best decision. 

June Sham

Insurance writer and editor

June Sham is an insurance writer for Coverage. She aims to make insurance accessible to all readers and draws on her nearly three years of experience as a licensed producer for auto, property, umbrella and earthquake policies to help people understand their insurance needs. Prior to joining Coverage, she worked at a public accounting firm specializing in project management. She graduated from UC Riverside with a degree in Creative Writing and often still misses the sunshine of southern California.

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