Condo/Homeowner Association Applications
Condominium complexes are usually insured through a policy held by the homeowner's association, or HOA. However, insurance for the contents of individual units is customarily the responsibility of each owner, as HOA policies cover only damage to the building's structure and common areas. If you own a condo, you should contact your HOA for a copy of the current policy and familiarize yourself with the details.
Applications for General Liability, D&0, and Umbrella/Excess
You should be aware that insurance obtained by your HOA probably does not cover earthquake damage. Earthquake insurance must be purchased separately from homeowner's insurance, is somewhat expensive and carries a high deductible — all factors that lead most HOAs in San Francisco to avoid obtaining it at all. Even if HOAs do acquire earthquake insurance, they often fail to set aside sufficient funds to cover the high deductible — typically 10 percent of the insured value of the property. Also, if your HOA has not acquired earthquake insurance or pre-funded the deductible for an earthquake policy, you and the other owners could be assessed for the funds necessary to make repairs to the complex. In addition, if you fail to pay such an assessment, the HOA may have the right to foreclose against your unit.
If you are purchasing insurance for the contents of your own unit, note that these types of policies also rarely cover damage resulting from an earthquake. So you might consider obtaining separate earthquake coverage. See our Homeowner's Insurance article for more details. Of course, when considering any type of policy, always read the fine print. If you feel the policy does not adequately insure your unit, you can usually obtain more extensive or additional coverage through your insurance agent.