Unique insurance needs for condos: re-sale vs. new build

Are you in the market to buy a condo? Future condo buyers have many options, from location to size, style, price, and more. Whether you’re looking to buy an existing condo (re-sale) or a new condo (pre-construction), you’ll need to properly insure your property once you’ve decided to purchase it.

What Is Condo Insurance?

Like home insurance, condo insurance helps to protect you from unexpected damage or loss resulting from:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Water damage
  • Other risks

Unlike home insurance, condo insurance works together with the master policy your condo association has. The master policy purchased by your condo association usually covers these basic elements:

  • The actual building
  • Common areas
  • Elevators
  • Other mechanical features of the building

Is condo insurance mandatory?

No, it’s not mandatory. While the government may not require you to have an insurance policy on your condo, if you have a mortgage, it’s the lender who will seek protection on their investment. It also provides you with peace of mind, knowing the things you value most in your unit are protected.

What does condo insurance typically cover?

It’s important to protect one of the biggest investments you’ll probably every make. Let’s take a look at what’s covered under a standard condo insurance policy:

Liability insurance
Protect yourself and the people in your home in case you’re sued. You’re covered if someone gets hurt while visiting or for damage you may unintentionally cause.

Personal belongings
Often called contents insurance, this protects anything you own that you could pack in a bag or put in a moving truck. Things like your clothing, electronics, furniture, etc. are covered no matter where they are (whether they’re in your house or not).

Extra expenses
In case something happens and you can’t live in your home – you’re covered while your condo is being repaired.

Condo special coverage
Made improvements or betterments to your unit? They’re covered. Plus, this coverage can also come into play if your Condo Corporation’s insurance isn’t enough to take care of damages to your unit, or if you’re required to pay your share of a special assessment for damages to common elements of your condo building.

Identity theft
This covers you and anyone else on your policy in case your identity is stolen. Get reimbursed for the legal fees and expenses for replacing legal documents up to a limit.

Are there any differences to insuring an existing condo vs. a new build?

Yes – depending on how you’re purchasing your condo, there are some key differences to how you’ll get insurance.

Existing or ‘re-sale’ condos
This is the easiest way to buy a condo. You can see exactly what you’re buying. There’s no waiting, and you can move in as soon as you close. Once your offer is accepted, you’ll need proof of insurance to finalize your mortgage and complete your purchase.

TIP: Pay attention to your contract to make sure any special coverage considerations are included in your policy!

While a standard condo insurance policy will help protect you, you may want to get additional coverage by extending the limits of your coverage. This could include protection against sewer backup, overland water and more.

New or ‘pre-construction’ condos
In this case, you’re buying a condo that is not yet built directly from the builder before construction begins, so the insurance requirements will change throughout the process.

During the course of construction, any necessary insurance is handled by the builder.

Once the building is close to being finished, the developer or builder will let you live in your unit. This is called the ‘interim occupancy’ period which can be short (a few weeks or a month), or longer (up to a year or more). This all depends on when the construction will be completed.

At this stage, it’s important to note that you don’t yet own your unit. That’s because ownership of your unit can only be transferred to you if the condominium has been registered with the city. And it can only be registered once the construction is complete.

During the period from your interim occupancy date to the date of ownership, you may want to get insurance for your unit just for peace of mind. Since you do not yet own the unit you’ve purchased, you’ll need to get tenant insurance to cover your belongings until the condo is registered. Once the condo building is complete and has been registered, it can then be transferred into your name and you can switch it to a personal condo insurance policy.

Protect your condo and the things you love most.