Charles Hagerty No Comments

Condos: Easy Living, Tough Insurance

Do you own a condominium? To you, condo ownership may represent a feasible way to home ownership. Or maybe it represents a second residence in some exotic location you like to visit. Or maybe it’s an investment to generate rental income. Regardless of why you own, understand that insuring a condo is much different than insuring a traditional home.

Statutes and Paperwork

A thorough review of your master deed (often called declarations or “docs”) is necessary to adequately insure your condo. Unfortunately, these docs can be multiple pages of legalese that make it difficult to decipher insurance requirements. Further, your association’s bylaws may contain important insurance information. And if it wasn’t confusing enough already, some states have statutes which dictate condo insurance requirements.  For these reasons, a best practice is to review your insurance needs with a trusted insurance advisor, like your Trusted Choice® independent agent.

Definition of Unit

Your docs should contain a definition of “unit.” This term is often used to define the boundaries of the property that you individually own vs. common property that is owned by the association or other entity. For example, boundaries may include the space you occupy as well as all real property located between the unfinished walls, floor and ceiling. Note that there is no standard definition of unit: All docs are different.

“Bare Walls In?” or “What I Bring In?”

Some docs will make the association’s insurance policy (often called “master” policy) responsible for all building items and fixtures including those located inside your unit. Such items may include floor coverings, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, built-in cabinets and counters, appliances and equipment. In this case, you are only responsible for insuring your personal property such as furniture, electronics, and clothing. You may also be responsible for insuring alterations you make to the existing floor plan, such as laying carpet over tile.

Other docs will make the master policy responsible only for real property that is located outside of the unit. In this case, you are responsible for insuring the items mentioned above including building items and fixtures located inside your unit. Some docs will specifically list the items that you must insure yourself, but others are not as clear. This is another important reason to review the docs with your independent agent.

Rental Units

If you plan to use your condo to make a few extra bucks, proceed with caution: Once you rent or make your condo available for rental, your insurance changes. For example, once your condo is made available for rent you lose coverage for your personal property. This means items like furniture, electronics and decorations are no longer insured. Since condos often are rented furnished, this is a large gap that must be addressed before the damage happens. Coverage is also eliminated for appurtenant structures—such as a detached garage or dock—if damaged once the condo is rented or made available for rent.

This practice also eliminates the personal liability coverage under your condo insurance policy. This means if someone renting your condo injures someone else or their property and you are brought into the lawsuit your condo policy will not pay to defend you.

All hope is not lost. Most condo policies can be easily amended to close these significant coverage gaps. Your Trusted Choice® independent agent can also help you evaluate how much your policy will pay you for lost rental income if your condo is damaged.

Loss Assessments

There are many reasons why your association may render an assessment against you. There are circumstances where your condo insurance policy will help pay the cost of the assessment. One circumstance is if you are assessed to pay costs for which the association is liable due to a loss that would be covered by your condo policy.

For example, say you are assessed for dollars to repair damage to common property (i.e. a pool house). The reason you were assessed is because the damage exceeded the amount of insurance available in the master policy. If the damage was caused by windstorm, the assessment coverage under your condo policy would kick in because windstorm is covered by your policy. However, if the cause of the damage was flood your policy would not pay because flood is not covered by your policy.

Your assessment coverage will also kick in to help cover the cost of the master policy’s deductible. It may also pay for liability assessments resulting from claims of bodily injury or property damage as well as liability for your decisions as an uncompensated association director or officer.

The dollar amounts of such assessments are unpredictable and depend on factors that are out of your control. This is why you should work with your trusted advisor to raise the amount of coverage your policy will pay for an assessment.

Properly insuring your condo is complicated. A professional independent agent can help you secure the insurance you need to eliminate surprises if the worst happens.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call us at (434) 582-1444.


Charles Hagerty No Comments

Daylight Savings Time Sets Off Spring Cleaning—and a Safety Check

The catchy phrase “spring ahead” signals change for Americans. It’s a reminder to move clocks ahead one hour for daylight savings time. And it’s an optimistic forecast that warmer and sunnier weeks are ahead. With these seasonal changes, millions take on “spring cleaning” of homes, garages, and yards.

When you’re longing to get outside in the spring months, consider several simple steps to enhance safety for you and your family. After all, the numbers show where the danger is: Home accidents result in 10 million emergency room visits each year in the U.S., according to Home Safety Council estimates. Many injuries occur in garages and near doorways to a home.

Here are some suggestions for an effective spring safety sweep:

Check fluids. Look under sinks, in bathrooms, closets, garage and basement for liquids that include chemicals. Look for potentially hazardous liquids including: cleaning solvents and disinfectants; oil-based paints, primers and thinners; gasoline, kerosene, motor oil, anti-freeze, windshield washer, and other car products; insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers; and charcoal lighter fluid.

Safely discard any liquids that are unneeded or expired, based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper disposal is usually best accomplished with a community-based program. Typically, pouring hazardous materials down a sink, on the ground, or in a storm sewer—or placing them in the garbage—is not a safe option.

Cap, label and raise. Safely cap containers containing chemicals of any kind. If these materials need to be kept, make sure they are labeled correctly. Raise up (out of the reach of children and pets) any containers with hazardous materials.

Ventilate. Make sure petroleum-based products and other products with noxious fumes are not stored in a confined space such as a basement or closet. Nor should they be near a heat source. Springtime also is a good time to have chimneys professionally cleaned.

Check alarms. Housing codes typically require smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms in a residence. Consider adding these safety devices in garages and basements. Check the batteries in all smoke and CO alarms.

Clean up clutter. Many trip-and-fall or fall-from-above accidents happen because houses are cluttered near doors. Garages, basements, and attics are places where many homeowners put things out of the way—only to find them “by accident” come springtime. Clean up for safety’s sake.

Separate for safety. In the garage and basement, make an area for bikes, balls, and toys—away from potentially dangerous areas and items such as fuels, paints and power tools.

Prepare for an emergency. Make sure all entrances and exits to your home, including through the garage or basement, are clear. Place a first-aid kit and flashlight in the garage and basement. Mount a fire extinguisher in the garage, and train adults how to use it based on manufacturer’s directions.

Check appliances. Check appliance hoses for dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, and dryers. Danger signs: crimping, cracking or other damage on power wires, supply/discharge hoses, and vents. If you have a sump pump, test it—before spring downpours and melting snows do.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call us at (434) 582-1444.