Many first-time home buyers choose condo living for its relative ease of ownership. Condos are priced lower than most stand-alone homes, making them a great way to enter the market. One of the biggest benefits of condo ownership has to be that outdoor maintenance is usually carried out for you, paid for as part as part of your condo fees, which sounds extremely attractive after the winter we’ve had. Many condo buildings also come with amenities such as gyms, saunas, pools, hot tubs and even a concierge. Access to these sorts of features may be unaffordable otherwise. A condo building can be a tight-knit community where there are activities and outings scheduled regularly, and if you choose to get involved you can also have your say about your building’s operations at monthly condo meetings. You could even join the board!
Another bonus to condo living is that you know that your unit is safe and secure and your neighbours are close by.
Since purchasing a condo is often the initial foray into real estate for most, condo insurance is also new for many. Although similar to regular home insurance policies, Calgary condo insurance is different in a few important ways.
What do Condo Fees Cover?
Condo associations administrate condo fees, and a chunk should go towards proper insurance. When buying a condo, make sure to have a look at the board’s record in these matters. Fees are calculated based on the square footage of units, and cover the maintenance and upkeep of the building’s external property, internal common areas (such as hallways and elevators) and amenities such as gyms, meeting rooms and swimming pools. The building’s utility costs are included in condo fees, as well as security systems.
Some condo companies will include your unit’s water, electricity and heat in their condo fees, which means you pay for everything in one easy monthly sum.
A well-run condo association should always have a large reserve fund set aside for major repairs, which can help offset the pain of special assessments (more on those later).
Basic Condo Insurance Coverage
A basic condo insurance policy protects:
- Personal belongings located in privately owned parts of the building, including your unit, your storage locker and your parking spot
- Personal liability against accidents or injuries that occur in your home
- Betterments arising from incidents which are caused by a specifically designed insured peril, such as a fire
As you’ll see, far more comprehensive coverage is available if you opt in to what is known as loss assessment protection. While loss assessment protection is optional and costs extra, it provides you with essential peace of mind.
Loss Assessment Protection
A special assessment (also known as a special levy) is a supplementary charge that can be imposed upon homeowners that is in addition to regular condo fees. Due to the huge housing boom in Calgary and that began in the late ‘90s and continued for the first decade of the 21st century, unfortunately special assessments are quite common. throughout Alberta. To meet market demands, property developers and construction companies fast-tracked a large number of condominium projects, and the unintentional end result has been that some buildings just aren’t standing up to the elements as well as they were originally intended.
A special assessment may be levied to perform repairs to building envelopes, foundations, roofs and common areas when there is not enough capital in the condo association’s operating budget or reserve funds. To protect yourself, make sure that your condo insurance in Calgary includes special assessment coverage, called loss assessment protection. Some specific types of special assessments may not be included in your policy while others are.
Loss assessment protection provides the following additional forms of coverage:
- Protection against valid special assessments that are issued in accordance with your condominium corporation’s stipulated rules and regulations that fall within the parameters of your coverage
- Protection against legal liabilities arising from incidents or accidents that take place in common areas and result in personal injury or property damage
Additional Insurance Options for Condo Owners
- Additional Living Expenses: If your unit ever becomes uninhabitable, such as due to flooding, additional living expenses coverage will help pay for lodgings while repairs are carried out.
- Betterments and Improvements: Improvements to your condo also increase its value, so always inform your insurance provider if you have made any upgrades. If you renovate your condo in any way, such as add in new flooring, upgrade the kitchen or purchase new large appliances, betterments and improvements coverage will help with repairs or replacement costs if damage is incurred, provided you have communicated properly with your insurance company.
- Unit Additional Protection: This type of coverage insures owners against named perils, such as damage from a fire, in the event that your condo association’s coverage is not adequate. Unit additional protection insurance can help you cover the gap.
Condo Insurance in Calgary: Make Sure You’re Covered
Lane’s Insurance is a full-service brokerage that works for you, not for the insurance company. Clients get access to the lowest possible Calgary condo insurance rates, as well as attentive service and extensive claims support. Visit Lane’s Insurance online for a free quote, or contact your local Lane’s Insurance office.