Like many condo owners, you bought your condo for the low maintenance lifestyle. Yet without the proper insurance coverage, many condo owners end up working over time to pay for leaky roofs, flooded basements, and other unforeseen problems.
Buying a condo can leave a big hole in your pocket if you fail to take the following risk mitigation steps.
Request a Condo Estoppel Certificate
When making any big purchase, it's important to get it in writing. When buying a condo, a condo estoppel certificate provides a written record of the status of the condo and unit. The certificate contains information regarding the:
- payment of condo fees
- status of the finances and taxes of the condominium corporation
- outstanding judgments, legal actions, or leans
- condo association insurance policy
- reserve fund to cover condo maintenance and repairs
Some red flags to watch out for in the condo estoppel certificate include outstanding judgments and legal actions, condo fee arrears, or a negative reserve fund. These could be signs of a condo association drowning under high leaky roof repair bills and lawsuits from disgruntled owners.
Check the Condo Association Insurance
When you pay monthly condo fees to your condo association, part of those fees go toward condo insurance. Condo insurance differs across associations. At a minimum, most policies cover the common areas and facilities. These include common space/rooms, the hallways, swimming pool, and HVAC system. Following decades of leaky roof troubles, many condo buyers insist on coverage for roof replacement and repairs.
In some cases, the condo master policy may extend to individual condo units. Again, the coverage will vary but could include:
- unit structure, including ceilings, floors, and walls
- damage from plumbing, water heater, or HVAC system
- water damage caused by a neighboring condo unit
Buy Personal Insurance to Fill the Coverage Gaps
Most new condos come with warranties. By the time major problems are discovered, oftentimes, the warranty has already expired. Without insurance, you could end up with tens of thousands of dollars in repairs for flooded basements, leaky roofs, and cracked concrete.
Most home insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding or sewage backup, nor does standard condo coverage. Yet owing to heavier rainfall and overflow of stormwater systems, these are rising risks for condos. You are responsible for taking out flood insurance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program, or a private insurance agency.
Additional water damage, liability, and personal property coverage is advised if your policy would not fully cover the costs. Ensuring proper estoppel certificate due diligence and condo insurance coverage is an investment in your financial freedom and lifestyle.