Contents coverage: What it is, who is responsible, and how to protect your belongings.

Contents insurance exists to financially protect you if a repair or replacement is needed for your belongings. This is commonly relied on by homeowners or tenants when theft on the property occurs, or there is damage or loss to property due to a covered incident, such as a fire.

What contents are covered by insurance?

Homeowner contents insurance policy often includes household personal belongings and home items, such as curtains, furniture, electronics and computers, clothing, jewelry, sporting equipment, and even toys. You should also declare anything that could be classified as a collection to your insurer, such as DVDs, rare books, or stamps.

Keep in mind that many policies limit what the coverage is allotted for specific items, regardless of how much the actual cost of repair or replacement is.

What are proactive things I can do as an owner?

If your condo has experienced water damage as a result of a neighbouring unit, it can be frustrating to find out that, as a condo owner, it is likely you will need to pay for a deductible. Condo building bylaws, upheld by the condo board, do offer some further protection for the condo owners, with many declaring responsibility to the effect of ‘a owner may not use their condo in a way that causes a nuisance or hazard to another person or unreasonably interferes with the rights of other persons to use and enjoy another unit’.

As a condo owner, it’s essential to be aware of what you’re liable for. In the end, home insurance with content coverage and a strong understanding of what you are responsible for is the best way to protect yourself from damage and loss.

What constitutes water damage? What is the fixing process?

There are several instances that are covered by contents insurance, including:

  • Electrical current
  • Explosion
  • Falling object
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Smoke damage
  • Theft
  • Vandalism or malicious acts
  • Water damage
  • Wind and hail

Very commonly, contents insurance is used for water damage.

What do I do in an emergency?

Unfortunately, emergencies can happen. Of course, safety comes first. Once the situation has de-escalated, whether it’s a fire loss or water damage, you can take further action to protect yourself financially. The best way to be ready for an emergency with your condo is to be proactive:

Have emergency phone numbers. Take the time to ask your condo board, if they haven’t supplied it already, for a list of numbers you can contact to get in touch with the appropriate board members or property management personnel when there’s been damage or loss.

Have trusted service providers on deck. It is also good practice to pre-screen repair companies and have their contact information available.

Keep records of insurance company numbers and, even better, have a personal belongings inventory.

Damage or loss claims are never fun – and in the instance of condo buildings, the condo board and/or corporation add extra factors that need to be considered. With proactive coverage and open communication, insurance claims can be settled.