Solved! Can Florida Condo Insurance Exclude Water Damage?
From accidents to severe weather, condo insurance often covers many perils, including certain types of water damage. But homeowners might wonder, “Can Florida condo insurance exclude water damage?” In some cases, yes.
Q: I just bought a beachfront condo in Florida. I’ve never owned a condo and am concerned about what is and isn’t covered by my insurance policy; specifically, if my insurance covers water damage. Can Florida condo insurance exclude water damage, or is it always covered?
A: Owning a condo is similar to owning a single-family home in many ways. The big benefit of owning a condo, however, is that the condo owner doesn’t have to handle the maintenance of shared spaces. But this can leave condo owners wondering what damages are their responsibility—and whether or not their insurance will help cover any required repairs resulting from damage caused by a covered event. For condo owners in Florida, water damage can be a big concern, especially during hurricane season. Many condo owners wonder, “Can Florida condo insurance exclude water damage?”
Like regular homeowners insurance, Florida condo insurance might cover water damage. However, the damage generally has to be unexpected and accidental.
Florida condo insurance generally covers water damage that is sudden and accidental, such as burst pipes.
Homeowners insurance generally covers water damage that’s the result of a sudden or accidental event, such as an unexpected burst pipe that causes water damage to a homeowner’s carpet and furniture. A homeowners insurance policy will likely cover the cost to replace the carpet and damaged furniture and mitigate mold growth.
Condo owners asking, “Does condo insurance cover water damage?” may be worried that their condo insurance works differently than a homeowners insurance policy. Luckily, they can rest assured knowing that condo insurance works the same way as regular homeowners insurance. As long as the water damage is sudden and accidental, condo insurance will generally cover some or all of the repair costs, less the deductible.
However, Florida condo insurance usually doesn’t cover water damage caused by flooding or a lack of maintenance on the part of the condo owner.
Condo owners in Florida are expected to maintain the interior of their condo to keep the property in good condition. Proper maintenance helps reduce the risk of damage to the property or the owner’s belongings. It’s also usually required by insurance policies. The best homeowners insurance companies in Florida typically state that the condo owner must keep up with maintenance. If a potentially covered event was caused by a lack of regular maintenance, the insurance company may deny the homeowner’s claim.
This can lead some condo owners to ask, “Does condo insurance cover water leaks?” The answer is that it depends. Leaks are not covered by condo insurance, but a burst pipe or a sudden and accidental discharge of water typically would be covered, less the deductible.
Condo insurance, also known as HO-6 insurance, typically covers built-in appliances, personal belongings, liability, and additional living expenses.
A condo insurance policy helps protect condo owners from the financial costs of repairing or replacing items that were damaged as a result of a covered peril. Personal property coverage will help pay to replace belongings like furniture, clothing, and other belongings if they are damaged in a covered event. Liability coverage, on the other hand, protects the owner from legal costs and obligations if they accidentally cause harm to someone else’s property or injury to another person.
Although liability coverage helps protect condo owners, it may not be used to pay for water damage to other units. If a pipe bursts in an upstairs unit and water leaks into the unit below, the owners may ask, “Does condo insurance cover water damage to other units?” In Florida condo insurance, water damage from upstairs units is generally covered under the policy of the downstairs unit’s owner. The water coming from the upstairs unit is considered sudden and accidental. However, the company who insures the downstairs condo may seek reimbursement from the other unit’s insurance company.
The exterior of the condo building is usually covered by the homeowners association, or HOA.
The answer to who pays for water damage from leaks in Florida condominiums depends on where the damage occurs. Condo owners are responsible for insuring the interior of their condos as well as their personal belongings, both of which are components of an HO-6 policy. However, part of owning a condo is paying a homeowners association fee. These monthly or yearly fees help the condo association cover the cost of maintaining the entire building, such as landscaping and maintenance in shared spaces.
The condo association usually carries a master insurance policy that protects the condo building as a whole. This policy generally includes coverage for the exterior of the condo building and shared areas, such as hallways, stairways, recreation areas and gyms, and common spaces.
Florida condo insurance policies may offer water damage endorsements with limited coverage.
Depending on the accident, water damage could cost the condo owner a lot of money to repair. In many cases of water damage, the actual damage to pipes or plumbing is the least of concerns. Water can cause significant damage to building materials, create a habitat for mold, and ruin expensive items like electronics and art. If the condo owner’s base insurance policy doesn’t cover cause of the water damage, the owner may have thousands of dollars of repairs to cover out of pocket, if not more.
Some insurance companies allow condo owners to increase the amount and type of water damage that’s covered by their policies in the form of endorsements. These endorsements increase the coverage of the insurance, but they also increase the overall cost of condo insurance.
Florida condo insurance companies may deny water damage claims if they find that the leak had been present for 14 days or more without being fixed.
In general, water damage must be less than 14 days old for the insurance company to consider a claim. Most insurance companies will deny water damage claims if they can prove the damage existed outside of the 14-day window. Unfortunately, this can make filling a water damage claim difficult for condo owners. In many cases of water damage, the damage accumulates slowly, such as a leaking pipe located within a wall. The condo owner may not notice the damage until after the 2-week time frame has passed. Additionally, if the condo owner is out of town when the damage occurs, they may not discover it until they come back, and this could put them outside the 14-day window.
Condo owners can help reduce their risk of a water damage claim denial by taking steps to prevent and detect water damage. For example, condo owners can add moisture detectors to areas around appliances to help detect leaks.
Condo owners in Florida are generally advised to take out a flood insurance policy to cover water damage caused by hurricanes or other severe weather events.
Most Florida condo owners understand the risks of living on an exposed peninsula. Strong tropical storms and hurricanes can bring devastating winds, heavy rains, and flooding. This can lead to damage to homes and other buildings and could take out power lines or other utility services.
A basic condo insurance policy usually won’t cover flood damage. To adequately protect their property in the event a hurricane comes through and causes heavy rain and flooding, condo owners will likely need an additional flood insurance policy. Not all condo insurance companies offer flood insurance, so condo owners may have to shop around to find an insurance carrier willing to provide flood insurance in Florida.
Policyholders will want to carefully review their condo insurance coverage to determine exactly what is and what is not covered.
The answer to “Who is responsible for water damage in a condo in Florida?” can vary depending on the type of damage and where the damage occurs. Accidents, like burst pipes or a water leak from an upstairs neighbor, are often covered by a condo insurance policy. Flooding from hurricanes or poor maintenance to plumbing, on the other hand, is unlikely to be covered by a basic condo insurance policy.
The best way for condo owners in Florida to understand their water damage coverage is to carefully read their policies. They can also contact their condo insurance company to get answers to their coverage questions. Finally, condo owners will want to review their condo association’s master insurance policy to learn more about the coverage of the entire condo structure.