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Written by Katie Rook

Why is condo insurance in Calgary so expensive?

The cost of condo insurance has been steadily increasing across Canada.

There are several reasons for this. Each underlines the value of comparison shopping for the best available rate.

  • Increased rates: In a low interest rate environment when the investment profit of insurance companies may be low, they may opt to increase rates. Since car insurance rates are regulated and not easily changed, a provider may increase home insurance rates instead.
  • Pandemic effects: While in 2021, it’s too early to gauge the impact of the pandemic on insurance rates, some experts expect that, on reflection, there will have been a higher volume of claims resulting from DIY home renovations gone wrong and accidents within the home during lockdowns.

    The cost of building materials also skyrocketed during the pandemic is believed to be making the construction of condos more expensive than ever. This cost is eventually passed to the consumer.
  • Raising deductibles: In an attempt to keep their premiums low, condo corporations have been increasing their deductibles, particularly in B.C. and Alberta. In the event of a claim, this cost is passed on to the unit owner and can be significant.
  • Severe weather: Increasing incidents of severe weather across Canada and the record claims costs that result from them could also be driving up condo insurance rates in Calgary.

Frequently asked questions about condo insurance in Calgary

Is condo insurance mandatory in Calgary?

No. Condo insurance, which is simply home insurance for condos, isn’t required by law anywhere in Canada.

However, if you don’t have it, you’re likely to have a difficult time securing a mortgage because many lenders require it as a condition of financing.

In the event of needing to make a claim, most policyholders conclude that the month-over-month costs of condo insurance are minimal compared to how much they would spend to cover a claim out-of-pocket, on their own.

Most forms of home insurance, whether you live in a house, condo, townhouse or rental unit in Calgary, also include liability protection. This comes in handy if you have to defend yourself against a legal claim.

What does condo insurance protect against?

For condo insurance in Calgary, you’ll choose between two policy types: Comprehensive/all perils or named perils.

The former offers more coverage whereas the latter covers only perils that are specifically named in the policy.

Common perils that a comprehensive or all perils condo insurance policy covers include:

  • Broken windows
  • Electrical current
  • Explosion
  • Falling objects (depending on cause)
  • Fire
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Smoke damage (except from your fireplace)
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Water damage
  • Wind damage

Does condo insurance include protection against flooding?

Condo owners in Calgary should be aware of the limits associated with any water damage protection in their policy which refers to water damage from an unexpected event such as a burst pipe.

For protection from flooding, which is increasingly common in many parts of Canada, including Calgary, policyholders will need additional flood protection.

While there are different types of flood coverage, the two most relevant to Calgary condo owners are overland flooding and sewer back-up.

Overland flooding refers to water entering a home from a nearby river or lake.

Sewer back-up refers to sewage backing up into the home when a water management system is overwhelmed.

A historic flood in Calgary in 2013, which caused more than $3.5 billion in damages, was deemed to have caused both overland and sewer back-up flooding.

The catastrophic losses inspired significant changes to the type of flood coverage that insurance carriers offer and also made clear to governments that flooding is an insurance risk that needs to be taken seriously.

How much is condo insurance in Calgary?

The cost of any insurance coverage in Calgary depends on number of factors, each of which vary between policyholders.

In many Canadian cities, you can expect to pay at least $25-35/month for condo insurance.

The most significant factors influencing cost include:

  • Type of coverage
  • Amount of coverage
  • Location of the home
  • Claims history of the policyholder

When you use our online tool to compare quotes from insurance providers across the country, you’ll be asked to characterize the condo, including building materials, storeys, heating and safety elements.

You may end up paying more depending on the level of risk that certain elements of the condo bring with it.

For example, rates may be greater for a unit in a stucco-covered high-rise built in the 1970s than for a unit in a new building. Higher costs result when an insurance provider considers there to be greater risks associated with a building.

In general, if you’d like to reduce how much you pay for insurance coverage, you can do so by:

  • Being above a certain age - 65 and older.
  • Being mortgage-free
  • Being a non-smoker
  • Bundling your policies so that each is held by the same insurance provider
  • Comparison shopping to find the best available rate
  • Getting less coverage
  • Having a home located near a fire hydrant, accessible fire services
  • Having monitored burglar and fire alarms
  • Increasing your deductible
  • Making as few claims as possible, having a limited or no claims history
  • Staying with the same insurer for several years

You may also be eligible for discounts through memberships such as CAA or Costco as well as those offered by an alma mater.

What is additional coverage? Do I need it?

Insurance for your condo in Calgary is customizable.

Some types of protection are only available when you opt for additional coverage.

Some common additional coverage includes:

  • Condo board – Additional liability protection if you’re a member of your condo board and are sued.
  • Earthquake – Covers loss or damage caused to a home and its contents by the earth shaking.
    Identity theft – Protection for policyholders whose identity is stolen and used unlawfully.
    Overland flooding – Refers to protection for damage caused by water overflowing from a nearby river or lake.
  • Personal property – While the contents of your unit, including belongings like clothing, furniture and entertainment equipment, will be protected by most comprehensive policies, you can get additional protection for items that
  • Sewer back-up – Refers to protection for damaged caused by sewage seeping into the home after the water table is overwhelmed. Homes located on a flood plain are particularly vulnerable to this form of flooding.
  • Unit Betterments – Covers you for any upgrades that you, or the previous owner, have made to your condo unit. It includes coverage for damage to things like your floors, built-in shelves and upgraded light fixtures and faucets.
  • Unit loss - Protects you financially, to a limit, for any charges you receive following damage not covered by other insurance – the building’s or another unitholder’s.

My building in Calgary has condo insurance; do I need more?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to get coverage beyond any that your building has.

While their insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing elements of the building such as a shared common space, any damage to your specific unit will only be protected by your condo insurance policy.

Another important element of having condo insurance in Calgary is the liability protection that comes with it. For example, you’ll be protected financially if someone is injured while at your home.

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