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What Is Walls-In Insurance?

Walls-In insurance may refer to two kinds of coverage: HO-6 condo insurance and a type of HOA master insurance policy.  

  • HO-6 condo insurance: The term Walls-in insurance is often used interchangeably with HO-6 condo insurance, a type of insurance you, the condo owner, purchase to cover you, your stuff, and your condo unit.
  • A type of HOA master policy: Besides the HO-6 condo insurance that you purchase on your own, your HOA or condo association will have a master policy that covers damage to the exterior structure of the condo building and common areas, and this coverage sometimes extends to the interior of each unit. Walls-in coverage is one of the three types of HOA master policy and may cover attached fixtures like top flooring, cabinets, and countertops as long as you have not altered them. 

If you’re ever confused about which kind of Walls-in insurance someone is referring to, remember this: If you’re a condo owner, you cannot choose which type of HOA master policy your condo association or HOA opts for, but you do have control over which HO-6 condo insurance you can purchase to fill in the gaps. Unlike the Walls-in insurance that your HOA purchases, your personal Walls-in insurance will cover renovations you’ve made to your condo, personal property, attached appliances, wiring, plumbing, or personal liability.

Understanding Condo Insurance

Condo insurance and homeowners insurance for standalone houses are two distinct policy types. Unlike homeowners insurance for a single-family detached house, which typically covers the property and other structures like the pool, garage, and yard, condo insurance usually only covers the interior of the property owned by the unit owner and their personal belongings. But like a standard homeowners insurance policy, a condo insurance policy also provides personal property coverage, liability coverage, and loss of use coverage

Before purchasing your personal condo insurance, understand what your HOA master policy covers so you know how much condo insurance coverage you need. If these two policies overlap, you could spend more on insurance than necessary. However, if there are coverage gaps, you can be underinsured and risk shelling out thousands of dollars out-of-pocket if anything happens to your condo. 

Walls-in Insurance: HOA vs. Personal Coverage

While HOA Walls-in coverage and personal Walls-in coverage may share the same name, they do not mean the same thing. Make sure you understand the difference between the two to ensure your condo and your belongings are fully protected. 

At a Glance

HOA Walls-in Coverage
Personal Walls-in Coverage
Structural Protection
Exterior structure, common areas, and interior attached fixtures like top flooring, cabinets, and countertops as long as they have not been altered or upgraded. 
Interior structures, plumbing, wiring, carpets, appliances, and personal property like furniture and other home goods.
Ownership Control
The HOA or condo association decides which policy to purchase
Condo-owner has autonomy in coverage choices
Cost Responsibility
Shared among all unit owners
Each condo owner pays for their own policy 
Coverage Flexibility
The HOA decides the coverage, and it’s usually the same for all units
Customizable to individual preferences

HOA Condo Coverage

A Homeowners Association (HOA) is an organization formed to govern a housing community or condominium complex and set rules for the residents. Because the overarching goal of an HOA is to preserve property values, most of them are required by their bylaws to carry insurance to protect shared structures and common areas. A portion of the HOA dues that residents pay each month is then used to cover the insurance cost. 

Note that the Walls-in insurance mentioned earlier in the article is only one of the three types of HOA condo coverage. The other two are Bare Walls-in coverage and All-In coverage. Bare Walls-in is the least comprehensive of the three and only covers the exterior framing of a unit and shared areas. On the other hand, All-In coverage is the most comprehensive and covers everything that Walls-in covers, but it also extends coverage to unit improvements and built-in appliances.

Most HOA insurance covers shared elements and common areas within a condominium complex, which typically includes exterior walls, roofs, lobbies, hallways, elevators, and swimming pools. 

However, unless it’s All-in coverage, HOA insurance has limitations and generally does not extend to personal property like furniture and electronics, changes made by unit owners, and personal liability protection for actions within individual units.

What Is a Master Policy?

A master policy is an insurance agreement issued to a policyholder that combines several separate policies into one. In the case of condo insurance, a master policy simplifies and streamlines administration for HOAs and allows all residents to be covered by the policy, even though they’re not considered parties on the contract. 

Personal Coverage 

Personal condo insurance, also known as HO-6, covers liability claims and protects your personal belongings, the structural improvements you make to the unit, and living expenses if you’re temporarily displaced after a covered incident, like a fire in your condo. 

While not legally mandated, personal condo insurance is highly recommended for owners to safeguard their assets and provide liability protection. But if you purchased the condo unit with a mortgage, most lenders will require you to purchase personal coverage since they have a financial interest in the property. 

Personal condo insurance is generally much more comprehensive than HOA condo coverage and can cover everything within the unit, including appliances, furniture, carpets, light fixtures, and other personal belongings. However, some policies may have coverage limits on valuable items like jewelry and art. Most personal condo policies may also exclude coverage for damage related to earthquakes, floods, sinkholes, or wear and tear.

Coverage exclusions and limitations can vary by insurer, so always check with your agent to understand what’s covered and what’s not. 

Do You Need Both Types of Coverage?

It depends on your situation. Here are a few scenarios to help you decide the coverage you need. 

You may need both types of coverage if

  • You have a mortgage, and your lender requires you to purchase personal condo insurance in addition to the HOA Walls-in master policy. 
  • You want comprehensive protection for personal assets and everything not included in the HOA condo coverage. 

You may only need HOA Walls-in coverage if

  • You’re comfortable with the coverage limitations and purchased the condo without a mortgage. 

You may only need personal condo insurance if

  • Your HOA does not provide condo insurance, which is unlikely. 

Cost Comparison

Personal condo insurance costs can vary widely depending on factors like location, the value of your unit and belongings, coverage needs, and claims history. You can usually expect to pay between $30 and $60 monthly.

HOA Walls-in insurance costs can also differ depending on factors like the size of the common area and the extent of coverage, but it usually ranges from $50 to $100 a month. This cost is divided equally among residents and is taken out of their monthly HOA dues.

Which Type of Coverage Do You Need?

It’s generally a good idea to have both types of coverage to ensure your unit and personal belongings are fully protected. While your HOA may cover the common areas and building exteriors, the inside of your unit can still be at risk for fire damage, theft, and other perils. Consult an insurance agent to determine coverage for your specific situation. 

Putting It All Together

Without adequate insurance coverage, you could deplete your savings trying to cover damages and repairs if anything happens to your condo unit. So, if you already own a condo or are planning to become a condo owner, carefully review your HOA master policy to determine your coverage gap and how much additional personal condo coverage to purchase. Speak to a licensed insurance agent if you need help finding the most suitable policy for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

As mentioned earlier, HO-6 typically covers everything in your condo unit from the walls inward, whereas HOA Walls-in policy only covers the dry walls inside your unit and attached fixtures that have not been altered. If your coverage overlaps but you want to file a claim or a dispute, contact both your HOA and insurance company so they can determine who’s responsible for what part of the claim. 

The biggest mistake condo owners make related to Walls-in insurance is underestimating coverage needs. Though HOA Walls-in policy may cover fixtures like the walls, floor, cabinets, and countertop, they do not account for everything else in your condo, including your personal belongings and any upgrades you’ve made. So, do not assume you’re fully covered just because you’ve paid your HOA dues. Always review the master policy to assess coverage gaps and avoid unexpected expenses.