Because the owner of a condo owns a space in the building rather than a part of the building, there’s a vast difference between regular homeowners insurance and condo insurance in California. Condo owners purchase their own insurance coverage for personal possessions, and contribute to the premiums for a condominium association master policy covering the building and its common elements.
Condominium associations may adopt either a “bare walls” or a “single entity” approach for the master policy. The “bare walls” approach means that the association insures the building including elements such as the walls, roof, floors and elevators but does not insure items inside individual condo units such as wiring, plumbing, cabinets, appliances, bathroom fixtures or carpets. An association that adopts the “single entity” approach insures the building and some fixtures inside individual condo units such as carpets, appliances and cabinets, and each condo unit owner is responsible for alterations and additions made to the original structure.
Having established how the condominium association master policy works, a condo owner needs to purchase insurance coverage for any items that are not covered by the master policy. Insuring a condo unit is unusual, and it’s important to understand what is covered by your condo insurance in California. Condo owners should read the policy conditions carefully and ask their condominium association, insurer or agent if they need clarification of any point.