I have enjoyed living in a townhome community (Bridgewood, just west of Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines) for over 12 years. Living in a homeowners association (HOA) is a cross between being a homeowner and being a renter. While the townhome you purchased is yours, you are still subject to the by-laws of the association. So what to do when it comes to insurance?
The HOA must have a “master” insurance policy that covers general liability and physical damage to any common structures and common areas. While you may receive some benefit from this master policy, it is only for specific causes of loss and situations. You will need to determine which structural parts of your townhome are covered by the HOA’s master policy and which are not. Because of the shared ownership of common areas, an owner has to abide by the legal documents that govern the HOA. These documents are known as the Declarations and the By-laws.
Your HOA’s documents may contain important information about your insurance requirements so a thorough review of your HOA’s documents is necessary to properly insure your condo/townhome. Unfortunately, these documents can be multiple pages of legalese that make it difficult to decipher insurance requirements. Some documents will make the “master” insurance policy responsible for all building items and fixtures including those located inside your unit. Other documents will make the HOA’s master policy responsible only for “real property” that is located outside of the unit. Some documents will specifically list the items that you must insure yourself, but others are not as clear.
I write policies for our clients that live in various HOAs in the Des Moines area and find that there is a lack of consistency in insurance requirements. I ask my clients to request copies of their HOA’s documents. Typically an e-mail to the HOAs property management company is all it takes to get this done. I then review the documents to help determine that our clients are insured as required in the documents. Has your insurance agent done this for you?
I would appreciate the opportunity to be your Independent, Trusted and Preferred insurance agent!