For a condo owner, dealing with the property damage left by a tornado can be confusing. Your insurance coverage is likely split between your own policy and the condominium association’s master policy, and it isn’t always clear what damage will be covered or by who. The HO-6 coverage you carry as an individual unit owner works somewhat similarly to homeowner’s insurance coverage, but you shouldn’t make assumptions about your coverage or wait to ask questions until a tornado strikes. Because policies change over time, and because there are so many differences from one policy or insurer to another, Attorney Bill Voss strongly encourages condo policyholders to review their HO-6 insurance policies regularly and take steps to understand their specific coverage.
Typical Kinds of Losses Covered by HO-6 Condo Insurance Policies
Condo unit owners typically carry HO-6 policies, which provide coverage beyond the group master policy. These policies typically insure just the interior of a single unit, and that coverage might include:
- Personal belongings. Coverage of personal belongings is an important part of HO-6 policies, and it’s a coverage that is rarely, if ever, covered in a master policy. If your personal belongings are damaged in a tornado or severe storm, your HO-6 policy may provide compensation for those losses.
Living expenses. If a tornado displaces you from your home while repairs are made, your condo insurance policy may cover the expenses you incur from finding another place to stay, eating out, and even driving further to work, school, and other necessary daily activities while you are out of your home.
- Damage to your unit. Many times, unit owners are responsible for any kind of tornado damage that affects the inside of their units. Your personal condo insurance policy might provide coverage for interior fixtures and appliances, or it might be limited only to structural improvements you have personally made to the unit since you’ve lived there.
Damage to other units affected by issues in your unit. Sometimes, severe damage to your unit can cause problems in adjacent units, even if those units weren’t directly damaged in the tornado. This coverage usually only applies in limited circumstances, so read your policy carefully and talk with your insurance agent if you have questions.
While this gives you some idea of what is typically covered by HO-6 policies, keep in mind that coverage can vary significantly depending on where you live and the type of coverage carried by your condo association. If you are at all unsure about the coverage your HO-6 policy provides, contact your insurance agent.
Typical Kinds of Losses Covered by the Condo Association’s Master Policy
There are a few different ways condominium associations or building owners may choose to insure their properties for severe weather, and it’s important that you understand how that coverage affects you as a unit owner. Typically, the condo master policy will cover tornado damages to the exterior of the building, roofing, common areas, and exterior features like landscaping and walkways. Sometimes, the master policy also extends to fixtures in your unit, but don’t count on it. Many master policies leave the responsibility for plumbing fixtures, flooring, countertops, cabinets, and major appliances to the unit owner.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about what is covered by the condo association in the master policy. Without this information, it’s hard to know how much condo insurance to purchase to protect yourself and your unit—and you might not find out that there are gaps in your tornado insurance coverage until it’s too late.
If you’re feeling confused about your policyholder rights or how your condo insurance coverage works after a tornado, you’re not alone. Even large condominium associations sometimes need help settling insurance claims fairly after major storms. If you need to file an insurance claim for tornado damage to your condo unit, it just makes sense to get informed now so you can avoid costly mistakes in the long run. For help getting up to speed, request a free copy of our book, Top 10 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make When Filing Your Insurance Claim, or call the Voss Law Firm directly at 1-888-614-7730 to discuss your claim in detail.