You’ve found the perfect condo, but how do you know how much it will cost to insure? Insurance is often the last thing on your mind when picking out your new home, but it’s still an important part of your budget once you settle in.
Not sure how condo insurance works? We’ve got you covered.
Unit Replacement Costs
Similarly to house insurance, the replacement cost of your condo (on the inside) is a major factor in determining your insurance rate. If your unit suffers from fire damage, then most – if not everything – would need to be replaced. Potential repairs include:
- Walls would need to be restored
- Floors would need to be redone
- Cabinets would need to be rebuilt
- The electrical system might need to be rewired
That doesn’t include replacing the stuff you own, which would be covered under a specific section of your condo insurance policy, complete with its own limits.
If you’re lucky, your condo corporation might own a master condo insurance policy that covers the cost of replacing or repairing parts of your unit back to its default state. However, it’s important to note that not all condo units have that kind of built-in coverage.
The Cost of Upgrades
It’s common to renovate your condo unit every now and then. Not only would it improve your quality of life, it can also increase the value of your unit in the case that you’d like to sell it one day. If an appliance stops working, for example, then it might make more sense to get a better model or higher-quality brand altogether for the long-term value.
Those upgrades, called “betterments and improvements” in the insurance industry, represent all the additional value you’ve put into your unit. You’ll need to make sure that the costs of those upgrades are accounted for in your policy—every policy has a limit, so make sure your limit is high enough to accommodate everything!
Unit upgrades cost more to cover than the bare essentials, but not by too much. The cost of the upgrades will affect how much more, naturally. Marble countertops will probably cost more to insure than a fresh carpet or a new coat of paint.
Distance to a Fire Hydrant
Home fires aren’t all that common, but they do happen now and again.
What matters most for underwriting purposes is your home’s distance from the nearest fire hydrant. If your condo is within 300 metres of a hydrant then you’ll be in good shape. That’s considered to be the safest distance for underwriting purposes.
Here’s a quick breakdown.
- Protected by fire hydrant: best
- Protected by fire hall: medium
- Beyond a normal fire hall range: worst
Condos within 13 kilometres of a fire hall pose a moderate fire risk. Without a fire hydrant nearby to provide the water, first responders have to bring their own—plus it takes longer for them to arrive.
Anything outside of 13 kilometres from a fire hydrant is considered to pose the highest level of fire-related risk. It would take first responders longer to arrive on the scene, which means that a fire would have more time to inflict damage on the structure. More damage means more repairs, and more repairs costs more money. That’s reflected in the annual premium.
Having said that, it’s unlikely that a condo community wouldn’t be protected by a fire hall or a fire hydrant. Keep these facts handy when hunting for a condo, but it shouldn’t be an issue.
Contents Replacement Costs
Under home insurance policies for houses, contents coverage usually amounts to around one-third of the cost of the home itself. That’s not set in stone for any kind of home insurance policy, though.
You can set the coverage amount on the contents section of your condo insurance policy, too. Policies generally don’t come with coverage limits any lower than $30,000 these days—it’s the standard starting coverage amount—and you might need to raise that coverage amount even more.
That’s normal, and it only has a modest impact on your home insurance rates.
For reference, contents can include:
- Desks, tables, and chairs
- Books, shelves, and dressers
It’s a modest factor next to the cost to rebuild a unit or distance from the nearest fire hydrant, but worth keeping in mind if you enjoy high-quality furnishings in your home.
Smaller Condo Insurance Rate Factors
Similarly to other types of home insurance, there are some smaller factors that can play a role in your condo insurance rate. They’re worth mentioning, but you might not even notice their impact on your annual premiums.
Home Security Systems in Place
Home security systems don’t outweigh their own costs in home insurance discounts, but they do usually earn discounts nevertheless.
If you implement any of these in your condo then it will likely need to be inside the unit itself.
Condo communities have strict rules about what you can add to the outside of your unit.
Exotic Pets or Specific Dog Breeds
Dogs and cats don’t usually affect home insurance rates too much – condo or otherwise – but there are exceptions. They’re pretty common, after all.
With that said, exotic pets might have a bigger impact on your home policy. Some examples include:
- Fish living in large and/or expensive aquariums
- Large or rare snakes (and their enclosures)
- Birds of paradise
Certain dog breeds with negative reputations can also affect your home insurance rate. Some insurers might not even write a policy for homes containing those kinds of breeds, unfortunately. Many of us have dogs in our families too, but this is about statistical outcomes in actuarial science, and underwriters have the final say on this one.
The reason is that any harm caused by your dog would be covered under the personal liability section of your home insurance policy (whereas “pet insurance” covers the pet’s health and well-being). It’s about covering the legal costs of litigation after a dog bite occurs. Some companies don’t want to take that risk.
Location matters a fair deal in your home insurance rates, but it’s not something you can change unless you’re still in the home-hunting phase.
The two biggest factors tied to location tend to be:
- Crime rates in your area
- Claims made in your area
These two factors will inform insurance underwriters about the statistical likelihood of having to pay out on a condo insurance policy for damaged or stolen property, and it can get as specific as the street level. Only underwriters have this information, so don’t lose sleep over it by any means.
That’s the gist of it! There are more underwriting factors than that, strictly speaking, but these are the big ones that you can affect one way or another. Happy condo hunting!