As the owner of your condo unit, you also own the common areas jointly with the other condo owners, according to your share. Common areas are not limited to the corridors and roof of the building: they also include walls, windows, foundations, land and landscaping, indoor or outdoor parking, etc.
The law states that condo owners must “take out insurance against ordinary risks, such as fire and theft, on the whole of the building, except improvements made by a co-owner to his portion. The amount insured is equal to the replacement cost of the building.” (Article 1073 of the Q.C.C.). It is therefore true that it is the responsibility of the co-owners to take out insurance covering the entire building and that this insurance must cover the complete reconstruction of the building. Condominium insurance contracts have limitations and deductibles like any other insurance contract.
For example, many insurers do not offer coverage for groundwater infiltration in their insurance policies for condominium owners. When the snow melts in the spring and the building suffers damage caused by water seeping through the foundation, for example, the syndicate could find itself in a situation where there is no insurance. Article 1074.2 of the Quebec civil code provides that the payment of deductibles and repairs, in such a case, must be shared among all the co-owners by their contribution to the common expenses. As a result, you may end up with a special contribution to repair damage caused by water infiltration, even if your unit was not affected by the damage.
This is when the protection your broker offered you will come to mind. Did you agree to water infiltration coverage? Or did you refuse protection because your unit was on the 3rd floor, despite the fact that your broker had explained the risks to which you were exposed?
If you accepted the coverage, you are probably feeling better! Your personal insurance policy provides coverage, up to the amount you have purchased for this protection or up to the maximum covered by the distribution guarantee, for at least 90% of your share of the special contribution, less the deductible under your contract.
However, if you chose not to take the protection, your insurer will refuse to compensate you because the cause of the damage is not a risk covered by your personal insurance contract. You will then have to pay the amounts claimed from you by your syndicate of co-ownership. This is an avoidable situation with the proper coverage in place.
It is therefore essential to fully understand the scope of the coverage your broker offers you and the consequences that can result from a refusal to purchase these protections. We invite you to contact your insurance broker to discuss the coverage provided in your personal insurance contract, but also to read the insurance policy of your condominium corporation to see the extent of its coverage and be able to make an informed choice when additional coverage is offered.