Courtesy of iii.org
Because co-op and condominium owners share their building structures, two policies—a master policy and an individual policy—are required to fully protect all parties involved. Learn more about insuring a co-op or condo.
If you are purchasing a condo or co-op, the bank will require insurance to protect its investment in your home, and your co-op or condo agreement will likely require you to have insurance, as well. There are actually two different policies necessary to fully insure co-ops and condos—a master policy for the building, and an individual policy to cover you for liability, to protect your belongings and to insure any apartment structural elements that are not covered by the master policy.
Here's what you need to know about each type of insurance.
This is the policy that protects the entire apartment structure; the building management is responsible for it and its premiums come out of your maintenance fee or association dues. The master policy covers the common areas you share with others in your building like the roof, basement, elevator, boiler and walkways for both liability and physical damage.
In some cases, the association is responsible for insuring the individual condo or co-op units, as they were originally built, including standard fixtures. In these instances, the individual owner is only responsible for insuring alterations to the original structure of the apartment, like a kitchen or bathroom remodel.
In other co-ops or condos, the association is responsible only for insuring the bare walls, floor and ceiling. In the event of a disaster, the owner is responsible for elements like kitchen cabinets, built-in appliances, plumbing, wiring, bathroom fixtures etc.
It is important to know which structural parts of your home are covered by the condo/co-op association master policy and which are not, so you can properly insure your apartment through your individual policy. This information should be in your association’s bylaws and/or proprietary lease, which can usually be obtained from the co-op or condo board, or from the company that manages the building. If you have questions, talk to your co-op board, condo association, insurance professional or family attorney.
Your mortgage lender and your co-op or condo by-laws will likely require that you have your own insurance on top of the master policy because your ability to repair your apartment after a disaster protects the value of the unit.
An individual policy provides coverage for your personal possessions and for any structural elements not covered by the master policy if you are the victim of fire, theft or other disaster listed in your policy. Like a standard homeowners policy, you also get liability and, likely, additional living expenses (ALE) protections.
It’s a good idea to find an insurance professional who has experience in co-ops and condominiums. When selecting a policy, don’t forget to ask about available discounts, such as for extra bolts on the doors or additional fire alarm systems. If you insure your unit with the same company that underwrites your building’s insurance policy, you might also get an additional reduction in premiums.
To adequately insure your home and protect your assets, you may also want to consider the following, additional coverages. Consult your insurance professional for advice on what's right for you.
- Unit assessment reimburses you for your share of an assessment charged to all unit owners as a result of a covered loss. For instance, if there is a fire in the lobby and all the unit owners are charged the cost of repairing the loss.
- Water backup insures your property for damage by sewer backups or drain back ups—these are not covered by either your co-op/condo policy or your flood policy.
- Umbrella liability is an inexpensive way to get more liability protection and broader coverage than is included in a standard condo/co-op policy.
- Flood insurance or earthquake insurance may be necessary if you live in an area prone to these disasters.
- Floater for additional coverage for expensive jewelry, furs or collectibles.
Courtesy of iii.org
One of the best ways to keep your auto insurance costs down is to have a good driving record.
Listed below are other things you can do to lower your insurance costs.
1. Shop around
Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or access information on the Internet. Your state insurance department may also provide comparisons of prices charged by major insurers.
You buy insurance to protect you financially and provide peace of mind. It’s important to pick a company that is financially stable. Check the financial health of insurance companies with rating companies such as A.M. Best (www.ambest.com) and Standard & Poor’s (www.standardandpoors.com/ratings) and consult consumer magazines.
Get quotes from different types of insurance companies. Some sell through their own agents. These agencies have the same name as the insurance company. Some sell through independent agents who offer policies from several insurance companies. Others do not use agents. They sell directly to consumers over the phone or via the Internet.
Don’t shop by price alone. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations. Contact your state insurance department to find out whether they provide information on consumer complaints by company. Pick an agent or company representative that takes the time to answer your questions. You can use the checklist on the back of this brochure to help you compare quotes from insurers.
2. Before you buy a car, compare insurance costs
Before you buy a new or used car, check into insurance costs. Car insurance premiums are based in part on the car’s price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. To help you decide what car to buy, you can get information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org).
3. Ask for higher deductibles
Deductibles are what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 to 30 percent. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more. Before choosing a higher deductible, be sure you have enough money set aside to pay it if you have a claim.
4. Reduce coverage on older cars
Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverages on older cars. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing the coverage may not be cost effective. Auto dealers and banks can tell you the worth of cars. Or you can look it up online at Kelley’s Blue Book (www.kbb.com). Review your coverage at renewal time to make sure your insurance needs haven’t changed.
5. Buy your homeowners and auto coverage from the same insurer
Many insurers will give you a break if you buy two or more types of insurance. You may also get a reduction if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company. Some insurers reduce the rates for long-time customers. But it still makes sense to shop around! You may save money buying from different insurance companies, compared with a multipolicy discount.
6. Maintain a good credit record
Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. Most insurers use credit information to price auto insurance policies. Research shows that people who effectively manage their credit have fewer claims. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than you need and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Check your credit record on a regular basis and have any errors corrected promptly so that your record remains accurate.
7. Take advantage of low mileage discounts
Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive a lower than average number of miles per year. Low mileage discounts can also apply to drivers who car pool to work.
8. Ask about group insurance
Some companies offer reductions to drivers who get insurance through a group plan from their employers, through professional, business and alumni groups or from other associations. Ask your employer and inquire with groups or clubs you are a member of to see if this is possible.
9. Seek out other discounts
Companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. You may also get a discount if you take a defensive driving course. If there is a young driver on the policy who is a good student, has taken a drivers education course or is away at college without a car, you may also qualify for a lower rate.
When you comparison shop, inquire about discounts for the following:*
Auto and Homeowners Coverage with the Same Company
College Students away from Home
Defensive Driving Courses
Drivers Ed Courses
Good Credit Record
Low Annual Mileage
More than 1 car
No Accidents in 3 Years
No Moving Violations in 3 Years
Student Drivers with Good Grades
*The discounts listed may not be available in all states or from all insurance companies.
The key to savings is not the discounts, but the final price. A company that offers few discounts may still have a lower overall price.
Courtesy of iii.org
If you rent, rather than own, your home, have you bought renters insurance?
While your landlord may provide insurance coverage for the structure of your home, as a renter you are responsible for your own belongings. Renters insurance covers the loss or destruction of your possessions if they are damaged by a hurricane or other disaster listed in the policy. A standard renters insurance policy also includes ALE coverage if you are unable to live in your house or apartment due to damage caused by a hurricane.
Flood insurance is also available for renters. However, as for homeowners, the NFIP flood insurance policies for renters do not include ALE coverage.
Don’t wait to review and update your insurance until after you have a loss—there are few things worse than finding out you did not have the right kind of coverage when you are already filing a claim. So before hurricane season kicks off, make sure you’ve reviewed home or renters insurance policy with this Hurricane Season Insurance Checklist. Call your Insurance Professional if you have any questions. They can provide guidance on how to get the insurance protection that’s best for your needs and budget.
For information on how to make your home more disaster resistant, go to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). For information on evacuation, go to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH).