Which condo insurance is Canada's best?

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Did you know that one in eight Canadians lives in a condominium? Most are concentrated in just a few large cities. In Vancouver, around 3 of 10 people live in condos. In Calgary and Toronto, it is around one in five while in Montreal and Quebec around one in six.

It makes sense that owners of units in these co-living dwellings have an insurance product adapted just to their needs. 

Our guide below explores how condo insurance works, prices, the best insurers and tips for saving. 

What is condo insurance?

Condo insurance is a type of home insurance (in British Columbia it is known as strata insurance). Condo owners are responsible for the interior of their own unit, while the condominium corporation has separate insurance for the joint property. 

As a condominium owner your personal condo insurance protects:

  • The personal belongings in your unit
  • The interior of your unit
  • Personal liability

The insurance product is adapted to the specificities of condo living with its mix of personal and jointly-owned property. It covers the interior of your unit. Unlike insurance on a house, which covers an entire property inside and outside. Condominium corporation insurance covers the outside. 

Condo insurance is divided into different levels of policies: basic, broad and comprehensive.

Here is how these policies differ:

Level of insuranceNamed risks to condo unitMost risks to condo unitMost risks to possessions
Basicyesnono
Broad yesyesno
Comprehensiveyesyesyes
Comparison of coverage levels between condo insurance plans

Basic condo insurance

Basic policies, also known as standard or named perils policies, only cover the risks to your home and personal belongings explicitly named in your policy. 

Broad condo insurance

Broad policies provide a level of coverage in between comprehensive and basic policies. 

For the physical condo itself, a broad policy covers all risks except for any risks named in your policy as exclusions. This is similar to comprehensive policies. 

For your possessions, a broad policy only covers all named risks. This is similar to a basic policy.

Comprehensive condo insurance

Comprehensive policies provide the most coverage. They cover all risks to your home and contents, except for any risks named in your policy as exclusions. 

How does condo insurance work?

Personal condo insurance and a condominium corporation’s insurance complement each other. Together they work to protect the condominium owners’ personal and joint property. 

When there is a problem they split responsibility: 

CoverageCondo insuranceCondominium corporation's insurance
Belongings within the condo unitsyes
Improvements to the condo unitsyes
Personal liabilityyes
Corporate liabilityyes
Building structure, joint-property, common areasyes
Part of the condo included in the apartment unitsyes
Fittings of the condo units as originally deliveredyes
Personal condo insurance vs condominium corporation insurance responsibility

Standard condominium corporation insurance covers:

  • The structure of the building, including common areas like lobbies, hallways, stairwells, elevators and the roof
  • Parts of the building’s structure that are a part of the co-owners’ apartments (walls forming part of the structure, floors and windows)
  • The fittings of the apartments as originally delivered, excluding any improvements (original floors, original furnishings, bathtub, etc)
  • The condo’s corporation civil liability 
  • The directors’ and officers’ liability.

Your monthly condo fees go, in part, to pay for the condominium corporation’s insurance. These should cover repairs to common areas.

What does condo insurance cover?

Condo insurance covers your personal belongings and the interior of your unit. Additionally, it covers some damage to joint property originating from your unit. To give an example, imagine a kitchen fire in your unit that damages a neighbour’s property. Your insurance would pay for that damage to their unit. 

Typical condo insurance coverage covers:

  • Thefts and burglaries
  • Damage to other units from incidents originating in your unit
  • Damage to improvements made to the interior of your unit
  • Electrical or fire damage
  • Vandalism
  • Wind and hail damage 
  • Living expenses, up to a specific amount, if you are unable to live in your condo
  • Some water damage (like a burst pipe or a leaking dishwasher from a neighbour’s unit)
  • Some storm or natural disaster damage
  • Loss assessment coverage
  • Your storage lockers

Critically, condo insurance also includes personal liability insurance. This protects you financially if someone injuries themselves on your property. An example would be a visitor falling, hurting themselves and suing you. Condo insurance’s personal liability coverage would be there to help you.

Add-ons may include:

  • Extended water damage to protect against heavy rainfall, overland flooding or a sewer back up.
  • Identity theft
  • Valuable belongings

What is not included in condo insurance? 

Personal condo insurance generally does not cover:

  • Normal wear and tear of your unit
  • Intentional, fraudulent or criminal losses
  • Vermin and insect damage
  • Flooding (if in a flood-prone area)
  • Failure to reasonably protect your home
  • Sewer backup
  • War and terrorism 

When comparing condo insurance quotes, be aware that they do not all cover the same things or at the same amounts. Unless something is explicitly named in your policy, ask your insurer if you want to protect against a specific kind of risk or cover a valuable object.

How much is condo insurance?

One leading online insurer states that its average condo insurance is $470 per year. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,000 a year. Unfortunately, premiums have been trending upwards quickly as condominiums age and natural disaster frequency increased.

Yours could be more or less than that. The average cost of condo insurance varies greatly depending on a:h

  • Property’s value
  • Property’s age
  • Location
  • Named personal belongings covered
  • The presence of a security system
  • Completed renovations
  • Amount of personal liability coverage

Renovations can increase your insurance premium. If you install an expensive kitchen or hardwood floors, it increases the value of your condo and the replacement cost if something should go wrong. 

If you have valuables, you can name them in your condo insurance policy. Naming objects in your condo insurance is a great way to protect artwork, expensive antiques, or a collection of jewelry. 

Try our free and anonymous comparison tool to find the best rate for you.

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How much condo insurance do I need?

We recommended condo insurance that covers the replacement value of your condo and offers $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 of personal liability coverage. 

Legally, there is no requirement in Canada to purchase condo insurance. With that said, check with your condo association or condominium corporation. They can, and many do, impose specific levels of coverage. 

Finding the best personal policy is not always easy. It is up to you how much insurance you need for your condo. It is a balance between the value of your insured property, your risk tolerance, and your budget. Your belongings come into play too. If you have your home full of valuables, you may need more coverage to protect them. 

Basic condo insurance will often reimburse common valuables like:

  • Bicycles
  • Electronics: TVs, laptops, smartphones, game consoles
  • Furniture: chairs, tables
  • Clothing: jackets, shoes

Consider your ability to replace your property and belongings. You should purchase insurance on important objects that are too expensive to replace.

How get I buy condo insurance?

We recommend shopping around to find the best rates. Coverage and prices can be very different from one insurer to another. Try our comparison tool to get started today.

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Alternatively, many insurers will give you a quote through their website in exchange for sharing your address, name, and contact information. You can also call or meet with an insurance broker. 

What is the best condo insurance in Canada? 

Which insurance provider and policy is best for you depends on where you live and your risk tolerance. You may be looking for the cheapest condo insurance or the most comprehensive. 

Popular condo insurers include:

  • Allstate home insurance
  • Aviva home insurance
  • BCAA home insurance
  • Belairdirect home insurance
  • CAA home insurance
  • Certas home insurance
  • CIBC home insurance
  • Co-operators home insurance
  • Costco home insurance
  • Cumis home insurance
  • Desjardins home insurance
  • Intact home insurance
  • Manulife home insurance
  • RBC home insurance
  • Scotialife home insurance
  • TD home insurance
  • The Personal home insurance
  • Wawanesa home insurance

How can I make a condo insurance claim?

If you need to make a claim, call your insurance provider and condominium corporation as soon as possible. They should walk you through their steps. 

Before calling, be prepared. Make a complete and detailed list of what is damaged or stolen. Additionally, it can be helpful to have photos and receipts on hand when you contact your insurer to file a claim.

These are the steps for filings a condo insurance claim:

  1. If appropriate, report the incident to the police and obtain a police report (for vandalism, theft or similiar. This step would not be necessary for a flooding bathtub)
  2. Call your insurance representative. 
  3. Provide a complete and detailed list of what is damaged or stolen. 
  4. A claims adjuster will contact you to investigate what happened, request documentation and help you with follow-up steps. 
  5. Fill out a proof of loss form listing losses and damage, along with estimated values.
  6. Depending on your coverage and the nature of your claim, your items may be repaired, replaced or reimbursed.

How can I cancel my condo insurance?

To cancel when your policy expires, notify your insurer or agent as soon as you receive your renewal notice. You may owe penalties if you cancel before the renewal period.

Your insurance provider will ask for a signed and dated letter stating your intent to cancel your condo insurance. Speak with your insurance agent or visit their website to see if they have specific procedures. 

We do not recommend cancelling your insurance policy if you do not have another lined up. Gaps in coverage leave you unprotected.

Tips for saving on condo insurance

The cost of condo insurance can add up! Here are some tips to help you lower what you pay for your condo insurance:

Top tips
Improve securityLower risk means saving more. Installing a security system, sprinkler and/or remote fire detection system can lower your premiums.
Increase your condo insurance deductibleIncreasing your deductible should lower your premium. Just be aware that you may have to pay should you have an incident.
Bundle your condo and auto insuranceAny insurers in Canada offer discounts for bundling auto and home insurance. You can often save 15% or more.
Do not overinsureBuying insurance is a balance between risk and cost. Get what you need. Avoid the temptation to buy excessive coverage.
Maintain a good credit scoreBelieve it or not, but your credit score affects your insurance premiums. Take care to keep your credit score up.
Ask for discounts  You may be eligible for a discount as a university alumnus or company employee. 
Compare condo insurance quotesShopping around will get you cheaper insurance. Our condo insurance comparison tool makes it easy.
Tips for saving on condo insurance
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