Buying a condo in Bedford is getting to be a very popular lifestyle choice. You have the equity and benefits of home ownership, without the hassle of snow removal in the winter and lawn care in the summer. However, when it comes to insurance, it can be a more complicated matter given the split of who owns what between you and the condo association.
Here are 7 things you need to know when insuring your Bedford condo:
1. Review your bi-laws!
Understanding your bi-laws is essential when owning a condo. It is a document that should clearly state the responsibilities of you, as an owner, and your condo association. Many years ago, many condo associations drafted similar bi-laws, but that has changed. With an attempt to keep condo association fees at a minimum and attract more buyers, many associations are pushing the responsibilities of the association onto the unit owner. This can include a large association deductible on the association's insurance policy (also referred to as a master policy) or changing the definition of what each unit owner is responsible for insuring themselves.
2. Are you all-in?
Many condo association policies cover the building structure(s) and common areas, leaving the condo-owner to insure from the "studs-in." This would imply that you would need to carry enough dwelling coverage on your Bedford condo insurance policy to cover everything that lies beyond the studs in the walls and permanently affixed to the dwelling, such as flooring, cabinets, fixtures etc. If you chose the "standard" dwelling coverage on a typical condo policy, that would be $5,000, most likely leaving you greatly under-insured.
A master policy may also be written as "all-in" and thus not making it necessary for the unit owner to purchase the additional dwelling coverage. The bi-laws could also be written like at The Reserve in Milford, where the condo owner is responsible for 100% of the dwelling. Again, the only way to know this is to review your bi-laws!
3. Understand your condo fees and assessments
The master policy is paid from the dues you pay your condo association so ensure that your share is paid. Also know that you may be assessed an additional fee to cover a percentage of a deductible should the master policy need to pay a claim. Understanding what the master policy deductible is and how it is split among unit owners is good information to have before a claim occurs.
4. Know the rules
All condo associations have their own rules and bylaws. It is important to fully understand these bylaws before purchasing your condo to ensure it is a fit for your lifestyle. Do you like the feel and scent of clothes off a clothes line or perhaps admire the Griswolds for their holiday decorations? Some condo associations have very specific do's and don'ts as to what they allow.
5. Stay Dry
If the condo or portion of the condo lies in a flood plain, the association will most likely need to purchase flood insurance to comply with a bank requirement. A flood policy for a condo association will not cover the property of the individual unit owner so you would need to purchase a separate policy for your own belongings.
6. Protect Yourself
As mentioned, a master policy can provide some coverage for a unit owner, but no matter how much unit coverage it provides, it will not extend to any of your personal property or personal liability. A personal condo policy (HO6) is what you need to fill this gap. Think about all that you own, including furniture, TV, computer, clothes, dishes, etc. and try to put a replacement value on it. Condo policies can be written with as little as $15,000 in contents coverage up to the millions and will depend on what you own.
Premiums are very reasonable as again - most of the building is typically covered by the Master Policy.
7. Let the pros help
Bedford condo insurance can appear like a very simple policy but given the potential gaps that exist between the association and your own unit you do need to tread carefully. You will want to work with an experienced insurance professional, like HPM Insurance Bedford to help reduce these dangerous coverage gaps.
New Hampshire experiences the best and the worst of weather. Condo owners in the state can enjoy all the benefits of living in this ever-changing environment without the hassle and effort of upkeep. Along with a trusted insurance agent, you can simplify your life and rest easy knowing your home and lifestyle is protected.
Disclaimer: This material is for informational purposes only. All statements herein are subject to the provisions, exclusions and conditions of an applicable policy or law. For an actual description of all coverages, terms and conditions, refer to the specific insurance policy in question. Coverage will always depend on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, as well as applicable law.