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Florida is the lowest-lying state in the US. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, pounded by tropical storms and hurricanes, and containing numerous inland water bodies, water damage is a part of life for much of the Florida peninsula.
For condo owners, this is a complicated subject. Unlike homeowners, they do not own the entirety of the building within which they reside, nor are they only responsible for their personal property, like renters. Little wonder that so many condo owners ask, “Can Florida condo insurance exclude water damage?”
Below we’ll answer this critical question – explaining everything condo owners need to know about water damage in the Sunshine State.
In short, no. However, like all legal agreements, the specifics are significantly more complicated. Like homeowners’ insurance, condo insurance protects your home against fires, lightning, windstorms, and water damage.
The difficulty arises in determining where your condo coverage ends, and your condominium Homeowners Association’s (HOA) master policy begins.
As a rule, your condo policy is specific to your unit’s interior, including built-in appliances, personal property, liability claims, and additional living expenses if your unit is rendered uninhabitable. In contrast, the HOA master policy covers the overall building structure and common areas like the lobby or gym.
In this way, the two insurance policies work in tandem – what one covers, the other does not. That’s not to say in certain circumstances, HOA master policies may extend to your unit’s interior. Some master policies have “all-in” coverage, meaning your entire dwelling, including your interior unit, is covered. You should always check your condo’s master policy when moving in.
Condo insurance coverage typically extends to:
While condo insurance does not exclude water damage as a category, only specific types of damage are covered. Water damage should be sudden and accidental in nature.
In general, condo damage covers water damage from:
Not all cases of water damage are covered. Two specific (and serious) exclusions include:
Florida is a special case when it comes to water damage. Insurance companies base their policies on perceived risk. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, policies may exclude windstorm damage from your insurance policy.
Florida is no different. Condo policies will cover water damages so long as it isn’t listed as a peril in your policy. Some policies will say this – and you will need to read the entire policy to find out.
Even if your condo insurance does not exclude water damage, weather-related risks and a high frequency of claims lead to high condo insurance costs in the state. For example, the nationwide condo insurance annual premium average of $512; in Florida, it was almost double at $997, according to a 2019 NAIC report.
Flood insurance is essential for condo owners living on or near the ground floor. Consider that more than 20% of flood claims occur outside high-risk federal flood zones, according to FEMA. Protecting your property with flood insurance is a must.
You will want to make sure the HOA master policy includes flood insurance. Flood insurance policies are typically purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you believe the condo association’s insurance policy is insufficient, you can purchase insurance for a single-family residence (or even a contents-only policy).
Insurance rates are lower in low-risk flood zones. However, in 2016, the average flood policy cost around $700 per year, and the average claim paid more than $31,000. Annual premiums in low- and moderate-risk areas ranged from $48 to $226 for up to $100,000 in contents insurance.
If you’re experiencing any water damage, contact us at United Restoration as soon as possible. We’ll take care of your water damage repair immediately and professionally.