Unit insurance

There are two insurance policies that all condo owners need to be aware of.

There is the corporation's insurance policy. That policy is compulsory for the condo corporation and all condo's have it.

Then there is the individual insurance policies that all owners need. Unit policies are not compulsory and a surprising number of unit owners don't have any. Not having insurance is dumb but who said you have to pass an IQ test before you can buy a condo?

Insurance problems
There are lots of problems with condo insurance.

There is the corporation's insurance, your insurance and the other owners' insurance. If there is a water leak and several units get flooded, the insurance issues can get very complicated. Someone is responsible to pay the insurance deductibles. Deciding who that person is can get tricky.

"You know what? No insurance claim should be that difficult," says Kevin McIntyre, president of the B.C. Insurance Broker’s Association.

"... when you have three different adjusters involved in one probably relatively small loss, and a whole bunch of insurance companies and a property manager involved and a strata council involved—it's just too much. It's just too confusing—and frankly it shouldn't happen."

Many condo owners are also under-insured. More than half of B.C.'s condo holders do not have homeowners' insurance, according to McIntyre.

That is a risky situation, says Tony Gioventu, of the Condo Homeowners' Association, because if an owner is responsible, they are likely responsible for paying a deductible that could be anything from $500 to $100,000.

So make sure you have adequate insurance.

Burnt out—twice
The owners in this small condo complex in York Region had the bad luck of being burnt out twice due to careless smoking. http://bit.ly/19SunBb

Now they are being penalized by having to wait for their building to be rebuilt—for a second time—and by being hit with a huge increase in fire insurance premiums.

Guess what? The condo corporation's insurance policy does not pay your living expenses if you have to evacuate your unit because of water or fire damage. Your individual policy may pay for some costs but not for all.

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