I was worried when my friend William* told me in September that he didn’t have condo-unit owner’s insurance for his townhouse style home.
“We have a Master Policy, I don’t need a unit owner’s policy”, he said.
“Well your master policy doesn’t give you any liability insurance, what if someone trips and falls inside your condo? You have no coverage if you get sued.” I said
“I’m not really going to worry about that.”
“There are things that can happen to the building, and your contents would not be covered. How would you like to have to buy all new living room, dining room, 2 bedrooms worth of furniture, all new clothes, rugs, and so on?” I offered. “Not only that, a condo unit policy is relatively inexpensive.”
“I hate spending money on worrying about things that probably won’t happen. “
At that point, I pretty much left it alone, even though there are many other benefits I could have told him about. I feel a certain responsibility to warn my friends who may be underinsured, because I am in the insurance business, but I don’t want to appear pushy with friends. But the worst thing that can happen is a friend of yours suffers a loss that you could have convinced them to protect themselves against. And then, in February of 2011 it happened.
William was one of the perhaps hundreds of homeowners that suffered an ice dam incident this winter. With all the snow we had in New England, melting and freezing snow on the roof collected in his gutters and eaves and water was actually pouring through his windows, damaging them, the walls, the floors, carpeting, custom blinds, and into the ceiling below.
ice dam damage to ceilings one floor below
The condo board begged off submitting a claim, stating they didn’t want to make it and he should pursue his own insurance, especially since most of the damage was interior. Rather than argue with his neighbors, William decided to keep the peace and pay for the work himself, which amounted to over $2000. Other neighbors who had the same damage from the same incident had a unit-owners policy, which did respond and did pay for their damage.
After just one day, the carpet smelled musty and all of it had to be thrown out.
“You were right. Can I get a quote?” William asked me when all was said and done. His policy would have been under $350 per year.
You know, I do like being right, but in this case I feel like I failed. I would have felt much better if I had done a better job of convincing William to purchase the condo-unit insurance policy ahead of time. I guess I should be glad it was a $2000 loss, and not a $500,000 liability claim. But now, I know he’s protected for the latter, and that makes me feel much, much better.
*Names are changed