As a condo owner, the responsibility of insuring your unit lies with you, according to the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners). This means, if a leak in your condo causes water damage, it’s typically your responsibility and not the HOA’s (Homeowners Association).
Does Condo Insurance Policy Cover Water Damage?
Your condo insurance policy water coverage will generally cover water damage that results from your household appliances or your plumbing system. However, such damage must be accidental and not a result of neglect or wear and tear, says the Insurance Information Institute (III).
What You Must Know About Water Damage Coverage in Condo Insurance?
Water damage coverage in condo insurance is complicated. Water damage in your unit may be caused due to a leakage in the neighboring unit or an accident in your home may lead to water damage in the next unit. Also, a leaking pipe in the common area maintained by the HOA can cause water damage to your unit. It is important to know who is responsible in each scenario. For a better understanding, you must go through your condo’s CC&R and master insurance policy.
Types of Water Damage and the Extent of Coverage
- Plumbing Accidents – Condo insurance policies usually cover plumbing issues such as damage caused by HVAC malfunction, frozen pipes, or a burst sink pipe. If something breaks down in your condo leading to water damage, your insurer will cover the expenses. However, that is only if the malfunction is due to an accident and not caused by wear and tear or neglect.
- Wear and Tear Damage – Condo insurance typically excludes damage resulting from a homeowners negligence. It is your responsibility to ensure every appliance in your condo is in pristine condition. Otherwise, your insurer may deny your water damage claim.
- Floods – Similar to most homeowners insurance, condo insurance doesn’t cover water damage caused by flooding. “Flooding” is defined as water that first touches the ground before getting into your home. This includes damage caused by mudslides, hurricanes, and water bodies located nearby. Repairing water damage caused by flooding can be incredibly costly. As such, you should consider carrying additional flood insurance.
- Water Backup – Typical condo insurance does not cover water damage resulting from drain or sewer backups. Water backup caused by HOA’s neglect is covered by HOA’s master policy. If the cause is not clear or if it the damage emanates from a drain back up in your condo, you’ll be responsible for the costs unless you carry supplementary condo water insurance.
- Common Area Damage – Usually, HOA has a master policy that covers damage and liability in common areas. Before moving to a new area, ensure you understand the terms of the master policy so that you can get personal condo insurance that fills any coverage gaps. You will only be held responsible for damage to a common area if the damage results from your negligence. For instance, if you deliberately fail to fix a burst pipe in your condo and the stairs next to your condo are damaged, you would be held responsible for the repair costs.
Does Your Condo Insurance Coverage Extend to Other Units?
In the event of water damage that has occurred in the neighboring units due to a mishap in your home that has led to flooding, your condo insurance may cover the repair and replacement costs borne by the neighbor. However, if the flooding is because of negligence on your part, you may have to pay the damage costs from your own pocket.
Neighbor’s Water Damage
If a pipe bursts in your neighbor’s condo, and this leads to water leaking into your condo and damaging your drywall and furniture, your insurer could cover the resulting replacement and repair costs and then seek reimbursement from your neighbor’s insurer. In some cases, your insurer may avoid the mess because it’s not your responsibility and, therefore, neither is it their responsibility. In this case, you will be forced to sort out the issue with your neighbor.
Who Pays for Water Leak in Your Condo?
If the water damage in your condo is accidental and not due to your negligence and lack of maintenance, your insurer will cover the costs. If the source of the water damage is in the neighboring unit, you must file a claim with your insurer. If the adjuster confirms the source of water damage to be outside your home, your insurance provider can collect compensation from the neighbor’s insurer.
If the water damage is due to a leakage in the common area, you must inform your condo association. However, the HOA may compensate for expenses based on the original design of your unit. If you have renovated your unit and the improvements are covered in your condo insurance, the difference between the actual damage cost and the HOA’s compensated amount will be paid by your insurer.
How to Avoid Having Your Condo Insurance Claim Denied?
- Maintain good records, especially your first home inspection report and HOA’s insurance policy
- Understand the terms of your policy
- Do regular maintenance
- Purchase suitable insurance
- Hire a plumber immediately after the damage. A good plumber will point out where the damage is emanating from and keep good records
Responsibilities of the Condo Association to Prevent Water Damage
To minimize the effects of water damage to the condo, the HOA must do the following:
- Regular cleaning of the roof
- Trimming of trees. Wet leaves on the roof can cause serious damage
- Check the shingles and gutters
- Check that the pipe flashings are properly connected
- Exterior must be painted
To protect your condo from water damage, ensure you maintain your water systems and appliances. Your insurer will not pay for any damage resulting from your negligence. When you’re ready to secure a quality condo insurance coverage, talk to the friendly experts at Jack Stone Insurance Agency. We serve Antioch, Brentwood, and surrounding cities in California. Contact us today to get started!