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Condo (by the beach) Homeowner's Insurance
Old 06-02-2014, 06:04 PM   #1
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Condo (by the beach) Homeowner's Insurance

Apologies if this has been discussed to death. I could not find a thread that was specific to our particular case...

We are shopping around for a Homeowner's insurance policy. Our property is a 1500 sq./f 2/2 condo by the beach (but our particular unit faces the opposite way) in the Hollywood/Hallandalle Beach area in South FL. We have been living in the same property for years, but prior to this we always had a Renter's Insurance policy.

Problem #1: most reputable companies won't even touch the area. We use Geico for our car and umbrella policies, and are very happy with them, but no luck in this case. State Farm won't even bother following through with a quote.

Problem #2: The only ones that seem to cover the area are companies I never heard of in my life, and all feel a little too "mom and pop" to me, at least over the phone. Not reassuring at all.

Problem #3: Their quotes are widely diverse, ranging from around $1K to $3K / year for $50K dwellings and $50K personal property. One of them includes Wind Insurance for less than $1K, another costs $1,300 just for dwelling/personal property, and a separate $1600 policy ONLY for hurricanes/wind through Citizens. It's a case of "too much, won't bother, can't afford it" or "too cheap, feels suspicious".

Problem #4: My main concern is actually properly ensuring my electronics (I'm a serious audio/video hobbyist, also known as an "audiophile" ( ), and my stereo/home-theater alone is probably worth $20K+. I also have an extensive movie collection that I have been building throughout the decades. Much to my surprise, a lot of the titles are now collector's items and the entire lot would probably command a small fortune on e-bay (titles I originally paid $15 for are going for hundreds of dollars each). I can spend a lot of $$$ every year, but I'm sure that if the s hits the f, none of this valuables (to me) will be properly taken care of. A raider is obviously needed, and we have used them in the past for items such as fine art, but I have not found a company that offers one specifically aimed at insuring electronics, memorabilia, etc...

The whole process is frustrating, to say the least. The cheapest quote was from a company called Entrust Insurance Services / Universal Property And Casualty Insurance Company, in Coral Gables. Their total came to slightly less than $1K/year (after deductions due to our impact windows and hurricane shutters). This is slightly higher than what we used to pay for our Renter's Insurance. It includes $50K/$50K coverage, $300K liability, and a $1K deductible and replacement value for the personal property. But has anybody even heard of them? A Google search revealed next to nothing when it comes to user reviews.

Finally, does anybody living in a condo in this area go by WITHOUT insurance? If so, what is your reasoning? Would love to hear your feedback. Thank you all in advance!
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Old 06-02-2014, 06:23 PM   #2
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Going without insurance might sound tempting, but check with your condo's HOA. Many, if not most, require residents to have at least basic liability and property coverage for their properties (residents usually pay for the communally owned condo building/property insurance via the monthly condo fee). The idea is that if residents are allowed to "self-insure," and then turn out not to have the scratch to cover whatever disaster might occur to their own personal portion of the condo, it puts the whole condominium association at risk (damage not fixed; lawsuit not settled, etc.)

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Old 06-02-2014, 06:26 PM   #3
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Going without insurance might sound tempting, but check with your condo's HOA. Many, if not most, require residents to have at least basic liability and property coverage for their properties (residents usually pay for the condo building/property insurance via the monthly condo fee). The idea is that if residents are allowed to "self-insure," and then turn out not to have the scratch to cover whatever disaster might occur to their own personal portion of the condo, it puts the whole condominium association at risk (damage not fixed; lawsuit not settled, etc.)

Amethyst
Thanks for your reply. I did in fact check with the HOA. We do pay to insure the outside structure, etc., via our monthly condo fees, and they do not have any particular requirements/demands outside of that. I'm sure plenty of folks in the building are not covered at all...
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:15 PM   #4
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I think you should contact a few insurance agents/brokers in the area and ask them for quotes, then ask them to explain differences. The Florida homeowners insurance market has peculiarities that you probably shouldn't navigate on your own.
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:47 PM   #5
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Perhaps you could ask a few neighbors who they have been using and what premiums they have been paying?
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:53 PM   #6
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Perhaps you could ask a few neighbors who they have been using and what premiums they have been paying?
I have. Most of the folks in the building are renters, and the actual owners live out of state. I have no contact with them. The rest, it seems, have had their policies for a while, and those companies are not writing any new policies in the area. The building's manager gave me a list of companies that have been used by owners in the past. Most no longer exist, the rest are the ones I mentioned in my previous post. Geico apparently will offer coverage about 18 months from now, from what a rep told me.
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:02 PM   #7
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I wouldn't think wind/hurricane coverage is necessary since the external structure should already be covered by the condo board's insurance?

What you will want to make sure you're covered for is internal damage, such as if a neighbour's toilet starts leaking into your unit, or similarly if your water leaks into someone else's unit.

I'm Canadian so I have no inputs at all on what company might be good.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:17 PM   #8
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Getting good homeowners insurance in Southern Fl is next to impossible. You need to find an insurance agent to work with. The large financially stable insurers do not write new policies and the state (through Citizens) is trying to get out of the insurance business, so your only choices are new local and unrated insurers (yuck). Much will depend on the age of the building. A good agent won't get you State Farm but they might at least get you a policy with a rated insurer.

I'd check to see what coverage the HOA has before any more shopping. This will affect the quotes you get and may explain some of the difference in price you are seeing.

Any policy you get will require riders for the A/V equipment. Not all policies cover commercial recordings, that may require another rider.
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:20 AM   #9
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Just wondering, can you just buy a renters policy even though you own? Seems like your risk is more with contents since the property is insured by the HOA.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:09 AM   #10
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Just wondering, can you just buy a renters policy even though you own? Seems like your risk is more with contents since the property is insured by the HOA.
From what the Renter's Insurance company told me, we can't. Is anybody here able to do this, by any chance?
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:58 AM   #11
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At those rates I would "self insure" the interior. Sock a couple k away every year in a mutual fund and know that:

1. the HOA covers outside
2. your fund covers inside
3. the saved funds are YOURs if a "claim" is never made
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Old 06-03-2014, 09:57 AM   #12
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Most states have an office to license and handle ins complaints. Seems they could help you eliminate ins companies that werent kosher.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:11 AM   #13
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At those rates I would "self insure" the interior. Sock a couple k away every year in a mutual fund and know that:

1. the HOA covers outside
2. your fund covers inside
3. the saved funds are YOURs if a "claim" is never made
The HOA might not have enough coverage for the shell and for common areas. You might get hit with an assessment to cover the difference. Also, depending upon when the place was built, it might need to be brought up to different codes. More costs to consider. It would take a long time for a few thousand $ a year to cover $50K dwelling and $50K property. Would the mortgagee (if any) allow for self-insurance?
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:17 AM   #14
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The HOA might not have enough coverage for the shell and for common areas. You might get hit with an assessment to cover the difference. Also, depending upon when the place was built, it might need to be brought up to different codes. More costs to consider. It would take a long time for a few thousand $ a year to cover $50K dwelling and $50K property. Would the mortgagee (if any) allow for self-insurance?
We do not have a mortgage. The property is fully paid off. I just spoke to the building's manager, and it's up to us to decide if we want to insure the unit or not. I received another reasonable quote (+/- $1100). This includes both personal property/dwelling and hurricane/wind coverage, and is slightly higher than what we paid for our Renter's Insurance. Entirely doable, but the company (offered through a local agency that is, in fact, minutes away from us) is called St. Johns Insurance Company, which has earned a "Financial Stability Rating® of A, Exceptional from Demotech, Inc.". But, again, I've never heard of either!
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:38 AM   #15
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We do not have a mortgage. The property is fully paid off. I just spoke to the building's manager, and it's up to us to decide if we want to insure the unit or not. I received another reasonable quote (+/- $1100). This includes both personal property/dwelling and hurricane/wind coverage, and is slightly higher than what we paid for our Renter's Insurance. Entirely doable, but the company (offered through a local agency that is, in fact, minutes away from us) is called St. Johns Insurance Company, which has earned a "Financial Stability Rating® of A, Exceptional from Demotech, Inc.". But, again, I've never heard of either!
Does your agency have a risk management committee that reviews the financial stability of the companies it writes for? The one we use does, and they will not write policies for certain companies.

Another thing to consider is flood insurance. If you are in a flood zone, and even if you are not on the ground floor, you can still be liable for flood damage to common areas if the HOA does not have enough coverage. The wind coverage probably excludes damage from storm surge.
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