Condo insurance provides essential coverage for your living space.

Condo insurance policies generally cover damage to or theft of your belongings, your liability if you're sued, and money for extra expenses if you can't live at home because of damage.

To know exactly what your condo (or co-op) insurance policy should cover, you first need to be familiar with the building's master policy. That insurance is purchased by the condo or homeowners association (HOA). The master policy is for the building's exterior and shared spaces, such as the elevator, basement, hallways, swimming pool and roof. You'll need to know whether the master policy also covers the interior walls of your unit.

The HOA's insurance is typically a "bare walls in" or "all in" policy:

  • Bare walls in: Covers only the exterior of the building and shared areas. You're typically responsible for replacing flooring, built-in cabinets, sinks, toilets and improvements you've made to the condo.
  • All in: Covers the exterior and interior of the building, but not your personal belongings.

HOA insurance types for condominium buildings

Exterior building Interior/unit Personal property
Bare walls policy No No
All in policy No

You'll be required to buy condo insurance if you have a mortgage, and condo associations typically also require it.

What does condo insurance cover?

An individual condo policy will cover interior walls that are excluded from the master policy and your personal belongings. Damage from these are usually covered are:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging
  • Freezing
  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
  • Volcanic eruption

Condo insurance will also generally cover your belongings when you're away from home, like at work or on vacation.

You'll often have a choice between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage for your possessions.

  • Actual cash value: Pays to replace items at their current value, with depreciation taken into account. Example: If your sofa was five years old, you'll be reimbursed for a five-year-old sofa, not the cost of a new one.
  • Replacement cost: Pays to replace items with new ones of similar quality, without deducting for depreciation.

A condo insurance policy also generally covers liability and additional living expenses.

  • Liability covers:
    • Guests' medical bills resulting from injuries that you're responsible for
    • Certain lawsuits against you or anyone in your household
    • Additional living expenses covers extra expenses you have if your condo is uninhabitable, such as:
      • Hotel or rental home costs
      • Restaurant bills
      • Laundry
      • Pet boarding
      • Other additional expenses that you wouldn't normally have at home

More: Loss of use coverage explained

Condo insurance rates

The national average cost for condo insurance is $478 a year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Use the map below to see the average where you live for a range of insurance amounts.

Here are the main factors that determine condo insurance rates:

  • What your policy covers (versus what the HOA covers)
  • The value of your belongings
  • Location
  • The condo's condition
  • Your claims history
  • Your credit (in states where allowed)

Additional condo insurance

Common types of additional coverage include:

  • Loss assessment: This provides reimbursement if condo owners are all charged for an incident that exceeds the HOA policy limit. In some cases the HOA policy's deductible could be spread among the owners. However, a common condo policy, called an HO-6 policy, provides only up to $1,000 of coverage for this.
  • Water backup: Condo insurance covers some instances of sudden water damage (not floods), but this add-on is for sewer or drain backups.
  • Flood insurance: Condo insurance doesn't cover floods, but you can buy a separate flood insurance policy.
  • Earthquake insurance: Like floods, earthquake damage is not covered by condo insurance.
  • Umbrella liability: Umbrella insurance provides extra liability coverage above your condo and auto insurance.
  • Scheduled personal property: If you have valuable items, like expensive jewelry or art, a floater insures them for full value.

Finding cheap condo insurance

Here are tips for lowering the cost:

  • Bundle policies. Discounts are common for buying condo and auto insurance from the same company.
  • Ask about other discounts. Discounts vary by company and could include:
    • The condo's age
    • Protective devices such as a fire alarm or burglar alarm
    • Paying the premium in full each year rather than in installments
    • Being age 55 or older
    • Living in a gated community with security guards or key-lock devices
    • Find out the price break for increasing the deductible. This is the amount deducted from a claims check for damage or theft, such as $1,000. A higher deductible means lower premiums.
    • Compare condo insurance quotes: Get quotes from multiple companies so you can compare prices for a good deal.