How exciting, you just purchased your very first condo! You also found out there is a master condominium insurance policy the corporation has in place. However, are you aware of what additional insurance you will require regarding your individual unit?

Owners who purchase a single-family home have a very clear image of their specific insurance needs. The situation is very different in a condominium, and it’s much more complicated to determine the exact coverage required. Especially since the property is shared by others in the same building or on the same land.

In Ontario, all condominium corporations are responsible for maintaining insurance for damage to the units as well as the common elements. This insurance must cover major perils and other perils as specified in the bylaws or declarations. “Major perils” are stated as windstorms, hail, lightning, fire, explosion, smoke, water escape, civil commotion, riots, impact from vehicles or an aircraft, vandalism or malicious acts.

It is interesting to note that the condominium corporation is not obligated to insure any improvements to a unit that have been completed by an owner. Therefore, it is very important that a prospective buyer or current owner request from the board of directors the definition of an improvement. Each corporation will have its own definition. An example of an improvement completed by an owner could be upgraded carpets, kitchen cabinets, flooring, ceilings, finished basement, lighting, etc.

Personal contents such as televisions, computers, furniture, jewelry or clothing, to name a few, also need to be insured.

What about liability insurance? This coverage will protect you in case someone is injured in or on your premises. No one knows when disaster could strike. It is very important to consult with an insurance agent to confirm you have an adequate policy. Unfortunately, I have witnessed a few condo owners who did not have an insurance policy on their unit. They made the critical mistake of totally relying on the “master policy” the condominium corporation provides for the building as a whole.

Insurance is something we don’t like to think about. However, bad things do happen and it is necessary to provide a safety net. You pay good money for insurance and, unfortunately, you only win by losing in the event you have to make a claim. The total cost of the insurance policy will be based on the amount of coverage required. Obtaining coverage should be a top priority when you purchase a new condo.

Remember, when an accident occurs, costs can escalate very quickly. Insurance policies are well worth it in order to maintain peace of mind regarding your valuable investment.

Marilyn Lincoln is a condominium owner, director and author of The Condominium Self Management Guide 2nd ed. Send questions to To order a copy of her guide, send $34.95 plus $4.98 shipping and handling to; The Condo Guide, 4A-385 Fairway Rd. S. Suite 128, Kitchener, Ontario, N2C 2N9.

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