Ice Dams and Condo Insurance

Last winter’s record-setting snowfall in MA resulted in unprecedented damage to homes and condos as a result of ice dams. Unfortunately for some condo owners they found out the hard way that their unit-owners policies did not cover them for damage caused by ice dams. Why? Because they were missing one little endorsement on their policies, the HO 17 32.

Unit Owners Coverage A – Special Coverage, the HO 17 32, converts the dwelling portion of the HO6 Condo Owners Policy from a “Named Perils” policy to an “Open Perils” policy.   Although the difference in cost is relatively minor, the difference in coverage is significant. As the title suggests a peril or "cause of loss" must be specifically ‘named”, like “Fire”, to be covered under a Named Perils policy. Under an Open Perils policy the peril is automatically considered to be covered unless it is specifically excluded.   What is the most common cause of loss in the Northeast that is not covered by a Named Perils policy but is under an Open Perils policy? You got it, Ice Dams.

Why is this an issue for condo owners but not homeowners?  That is because almost all home policies in the Northeast are written under an HO3 form which is an open perils form.  Unfortunately, the standard HO6 or Condo policy is a named perils form and must be endorsed to open perils coverage by adding the HO 17 32.

Some of you might say, “I don’t need to worry about that because my association is responsible for that”.   That may be so, but let me caution you that many people don’t know what their association really is responsible for or even if they do know, things are changing rapidly in this area. I will go over how in future blogs. For now, every condo owner should pull out the Declarations Page of his or her condo policy and make sure it has the Unit Owners Coverage A – Special Coverage HO 17 32 on it.

If you are not sure whether your policy has the HO 17 32 or you have any other question on your condo policy click on the following link: to contact us or call 800-559-5553 to speak with us