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Protecting Your Condo Against Floods

Flood insurance is a horse of a different color when it comes to the types of coverage available because it must be obtained through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), there are flood insurance guidelines and policies for both the condo association and the individual unit owner.

The condominium association is responsible for maintaining all forms of property insurance necessary to protect the common property against hazards to which that property is exposed. If the condominium is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area as designated by the federal government, it is the responsibility of the condo association to provide adequate flood insurance protection for all common property.

The Residential Condominium Building Association Policy (RCBAP) Form is designed for buildings owned by condominium associations that have at least 75% residential occupancy and are located in communities covered under the flood insurance program. High-rise and low-rise residential condominium buildings can be insured under the RCBAP. The program enables the association to manage flood insurance needs according to their insurance requirements. Under the RCBAP, the entire building is covered, including the common areas, individually owned building elements within the units, and commonly owned personal property if the policy is written with contents coverage.

The RCBAP is a replacement cost policy. This means that no depreciation deduction is taken at a loss settlement. The maximum available limit is $250,000 per unit times the number of units. Buildings that are not insured for at least 80% of their replacement cost or the maximum amount of insurance available for that building under the NFIP would be subject to a co-insurance penalty at settlement.

Since the association’s coverage of building elements within their unit would be primary, and the unit owner’s personal coverage considered excess coverage, unit owners should obtain information about the by-laws and building coverages provided by the association.

In addition to building elements, unit owners should cover their personal property as well as structural improvements they have made. The policy that addresses the insurable needs of residential unit owners is the Dwelling Policy Form. This form can cover building elements within units, improvements made by unit owners, flood loss assessments and personal property owned by the unit owner or it can simply cover the unit owner’s personal property depending upon how the policy is written. It may not, however, be used to cover the cost of co-insurance or deductibles. An individual unit’s coverage cannot exceed the $250,000 building policy limit for single-family dwellings in program communities, or the $35,000 building coverage limit in emergency program communities.

There are options for covering improvements within units made by the unit owners. If the unit owner purchases contents coverage under the Dwelling Policy Form, coverage is also available for the interior walls, floor and ceiling, if not otherwise covered under the condo association’s flood insurance policy. The coverage limit is 10% of the amount of the contents coverage. If a unit owner uses the contents coverage to insure improvements, it reduces the personal property limit.

If you need assistance in finding flood insurance coverage for your condo, please give us a call.