What You Don’t Know About Condo Insurance Could Hurt You
Condo insurance can be a daunting subject to get familiar with. Between master policies, individual plans, claims processes, deductibles, and everything else involved in understanding and securing coverage, plenty of folks decide to take what we fondly refer to as the “ostrich approach” and just bury their heads in the sand, preferring to simply
not think about it. While this might have short-term benefits (“Ahhh…no more condo insurance to worry about!”), the obvious problem here is that if you ever run into a situation where you actually need condo insurance, you’ll be woefully out of luck.
That’s why we’re here today: to turn all those nervous ostriches out there into wise old owls! Okay, so that bird metaphor needs a bit of work (…maybe a LOT of work), but to clarify, we’re here to help take the confusion and anxiety out of condo insurance, and to turn you into the most knowledgeable folks in your condo building on the subject! To help us shine a light on the topic, we’ve reached out to Dwight Clink – Vice-President of Link Insurance – who gladly agreed to provide us with his knowledgeable take on everything condo insurance.
The Most Common Condo Insurance Mistakes
“It’s the small condos – the 4, 6, and 8-unit condominiums – where the board is made up of every resident that I worry about most,” Clink told us when we asked him about some of the most common condo insurance mistakes he sees in the industry. “They’re all busy, nobody really has the appropriate backgrounds, and they’re never really aware of the problems they could end up facing. As a result, they tend to be poorly insured.” Clink further shared some of the mistakes that could create a situation in which a condo isn’t set up with the proper insurance. The following are the common situations he walked us through:
- Lack of follow-up. In some cases, unfortunately, when an individual is purchasing a condo unit, the real estate lawyer may be more interested in simply pushing a process through rather than following up appropriately. This leaves the condo owner thinking they’re in a good spot insurance-wise when they’re actually not.
- Lack of individual unit coverage. Your condo building might have an insurance policy in place, but that doesn’t mean your unit does. Taking out a policy on your individual unit is a must for a number of reasons: not only will this ensure that your own possessions are protected and replaced in the event of an accident (go ahead and take an inventory of everything you own – those costs add up quickly!), but additionally, you’ll be covered with regards to guest liability and anything that might happen when you invite friends or other individuals onto your property and into your individual home.
- Lack of directors and officers liability coverage. Again, this is an absolute necessity, especially for those smaller boards that Clink mentioned. Board members are responsible for their building – whether they’ve got the skillset for the job or not. As a director or officer, you’re at risk if you make a mistake, so make sure your board has the right coverage to protect all members from any legal backlash that might result from a simple error or lack of experience.
Submitting a Claim
Now that you know what mistakes to avoid and how all the different sorts of coverage work to keep you safe, the next step is breaking down any misconceptions around the claims process. Clink walked us through the necessary steps, which are fairly simple in all but the most complex and large-scale of situations:
- For condo unit owners: No stress here. Submitting a claim works exactly as it would if you were a standard homeowner. Just dial up your brokerage – they’ll ask you a few questions and then take things from there. No fuss, no muss!
- For condo boards: Even in this more-complicated situation, there’s not a whole lot to worry about when submitting a claim. Take the time to determine the extent of the loss and who is responsible, and then contact your broker to get an adjustment. Small losses might require a few photos as supporting evidence; large losses might need a more thorough, onsite inspection before proceeding forward.
And just like that, your claim is on the way towards being processed and resolved! One thing you might have noticed is that in each instance – whether you’re a condo owner or a board member – we referred you to a brokerage. Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t have a brokerage…should I look into getting one?” Yes, friend, you most definitely should!
Insurance Brokerages: The Unbiased Option
“One of the reasons I always say to talk to a broker is because condo insurance is a difficult thing for the industry,” Clink told us when we asked him why it’s a good idea to work through a brokerage when it comes to condo coverage. “Historically, it’s a high-claims branch of insurance, and it’s not always profitable because a lot can go wrong,” Clink explains. “A brokerage will be able to help determine what sorts of problems might becoming recurring ones, and provide solutions them before they happen again.”
Clink continued to inform us that a brokerage can stop and take the time to ask a number of questions that can help your building both during the claims process and in the aftermath to ensure that any insurance-related situations are handled properly, and to help avoid running into any similar sorts of problems in the future. By assessing the why behind the claim’s occurrence, considering the physical state of the condo, and determining a fix that’s a real solution and not just a band-aid, brokerages are able to help keep your building in ship-shape while still providing your condo with the best coverage possible – sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us!
This was a lot to take in, but if this blog keeps even one condo corporation out of insurance-related trouble or helps prepare them for the future, then it’s a worthy blog in our eyes. We’d also like to thank Dwight Clink from Link Insurance for taking the time to educate us on just how helpful a brokerage can be when navigating the ins and outs of condo insurance. Be sure to reach out to them for all your condo insurance needs, and feel free to get in touch with us here at Catalyst Condo Management if you’ve got any other burning questions about condo insurance, condo management, or anything else condo-related!.