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Condo and Homeowners Insurance: What’s the Difference?

Written by Linda Rey on March 8, 2012 in Insurance  |   4 comments

When I decided to buy a home in 2006, I had to figure out what I wanted. I decided, as a single female buying a home, that a condo was the way to go. I had owned two houses previously and realized that, after avoiding…

When I decided to buy a home in 2006, I had to figure out what I wanted. I decided, as a single female buying a home, that a condo was the way to go. I had owned two houses previously and realized that, after avoiding a lot of the work that goes along with owning a house, buying a condo was the right choice for me. Six years later, I still feel this was the best choice.

When someone is buying a home, whether in the form of a house or a condo, stress levels will be running high. A perk of my job is being able to help my clients with what can be the easiest part of the closing process—taking care of the necessary insurance policies. The differences between a homeowners insurance policy (HO-3) and a condo/co-op insurance policy (HO-6) are minor and are mainly in the Dwelling Limit, Other Structures, and the Loss Assessment coverages.

Coverage A – Dwelling Limit

A homeowners insurance policy includes coverage of physical damage to not only the interior of the house but also the exterior. A condo insurance policy protects only the interior of the condo unit, including walls, floors, and ceilings.

For a condo, the association will typically purchase a master condo policy that protects the exterior of the building and that is paid for through the common charges each unit pays. The dwelling limit (coverage A) for a homeowners policy is the value of the house minus an estimated value for land and location. The dwelling limit for a condo policy is much less and is typically estimated based on the value of any upgrades made to the unit. Don’t rely on the condo association’s bylaws. If you’ve invested in a new kitchen or bath, you could be underinsured.

Coverage B – Other Structures

The main difference between a homeowners insurance policy and a condo policy is that a homeowners insurance policy covers “Other Structures,” such as fences, detached garages, mailboxes, and so on, and a condo insurance policy does not.

Coverage D – Loss Assessment

A condo policy includes loss assessment coverage, which is not included in a homeowners policy. The coverage protects the unit owner in the event the association must assess all unit owners for uncovered costs as a result of a covered claim.

This situation could occur if, for example, a person was seriously injured and the judgment awarded was higher than the amount of insurance currently in force by the master condo policy. Another example would be if damage occurred to the common areas of the condo complex that was higher than the amount of insurance. In such a case, all unit owners could potentially be assessed to cover the costs.

Finally, the biggest difference between the two policies is the premium. A condo policy could be as low as a third of the premium of a homeowners insurance policy, depending on the size and value of the property. Talk to your insurance agent for more details.

Adjusting Your Homeowners Insurance
Will Your Policy Protect You from an Uninsured Driver?
How to Handle a Hit-and-Run Car Accident
Health Insurance Discounts for Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.

Follow Linda on Twitter.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. D Taft says:

    Keep in mind, Loss assessment coverage is optional and you may not have it if you didn’t ask. My agent suggested it when i bought my townhouse. Homeowners in HOA can also get loss/special assessment coverage and should. My single family/townhouse combo community recently had a special assessment due to a retaining wall collapse in the common area. $800 per unit assessed. Mine was covers, most the single family owners did have coverage.

    • Anonymous says:

      good point, depending on the state, there may be a small limit automatically included. In NY $2,000 is automatically included; you have to endorse it to have increased limits.

  2. Anthony C. says:

    Hi Linda: I’m still a bit confused about condo vs home insurance. I have a Duplex townhouse. Just me and my next door neighbor are the association. I had my own policy and he had his for about 4 yrs. Then as price kept rising out of control, we both went on the same policy, and now he doesn’t want to pay his half and I am stuck paying for the whole house which is not fair. I can take him to small claims court I guess. But isn’t it easier to get an Ho6 just for my side. Many companies locally are telling me they cannot do that, They want me to buy the whole House. And when I tell them the other guy doesn’t want to pay his halt anymore, they tell me Oh Well, nothing we can do. I honestly believe they are truly trying to squeeze me for the whole bill. That should not be fair, I know others that have their own Ho6 on my street. Can I obtain an Ho6 for my own side, and then buy and umbrella for my home and vechicle. I already have insurance for $50 for the inside contents. Please help me. I cannot take paying someone else’s responsibility. Thank you very much

    • LINDA REY says:

      Anthony, this is a bit more complicated and warrants more than just responding via the blog.
      Is there a formal association for the duplex townhomes on your street?
      What state are you in?
      Has your broker been able to assist you with your concern/questions?
      How long have you owned the home and have had the policy structured the way it is currently?
      I wish I could answer you directly with a firm solution, but I cannot without more information.

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