Bare Walls vs. Walls-in Coverage: What's the Difference?

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Condo unit (Photo: @hellomikee via Twenty20)
When you buy a condo, you have to insure it just like you would a standard home. But you can’t just insure it using a regular homeowners insurance policy. Instead, you’ll need to purchase a condo insurance policy, also known as HO6 insurance. 
Your Homeowners Association (HOA) or Condo Association (CA) also insures the property on which your condominium building resides. So, before getting your own condo insurance policy, it’s important to learn what your association’s insurance covers so you don’t buy duplicate coverage.
The information below highlights the two basic types of coverage that are available to HOAs, how to tell which one the HOA has, and some other options you have when getting an HO6 policy for your condo unit.

What Is the Difference Between Bare Walls and Walls-in Condo Coverage?

Condo insurance for an HOA comes in two basic types, bare walls and walls-in coverage. Each type covers specific areas of your condo unit, including the structure and the elements that make up that structure, such as the walls, flooring, etc. You can find more information about both below.
Bare walls coverage: With bare walls coverage, the association’s insurance policy covers the structure of the condo. This includes the interior of the condo but only up to the drywall. Everything else, including the flooring, plumbing, electrical fixtures, etc., aren’t included and must be added to whatever HO6 policy you secure.
Walls-in coverage: With walls-in coverage, the HOA’s policy covers items inside your condo unit, in addition to the walls. Some of the items covered include basic flooring, plumbing, cabinets, electrical fixtures, and other “basic” items. If you’ve upgraded items, such as tile or hardwood floors, you’ll need to purchase additional protection.

How to Determine Which Type of Insurance Your Condo Association Provides?

So, how do you know which type of HOA policy your building has? The easiest way is to read the condominium’s insurance policy.  You can also look in the bylaws of your HOA operating agreement. You can find language there that specifies which type of insurance that the HOA is required to carry.

Other Options When Buying Condo Insurance

In addition to the basic HO6 insurance, you might also consider adding some additional coverage options when purchasing your condo owners insurance policy. This is usually for high-value items or for specific types of perils, including the following:
Endorsements: An endorsement, or floater, is designed to help condo owners protect high-value items within their condominium. This includes multiple items of jewelry, works of art, or other items that have a value exceeding the maximums for personal property protection that HO6 insurance provides.
Scheduled endorsements: A scheduled endorsement is similar to an endorsement, except that it’s for one specific item. A scheduled endorsement requires that you take the item in for appraisal prior to buying coverage.
Flood insurance: Flooding (and the resulting damage) isn’t covered by HO6 insurance. Depending on where you live, your lender might require that you purchase separate flood insurance coverage. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) might provide flood insurance for your condo.
Plant and tree coverage: Other commonly uncovered items are the trees, shrubs, and bushes outside of your condo building. It’s a good idea to check your HOA’s policy to see if it provides this type of coverage. If not, then you should consider getting coverage of your own.
Debris removal: Sometimes your HOA’s policy will cover the removal of debris following a covered peril, but sometimes they don’t. Either way, it’s always a good idea for a unit owner to check and purchase a coverage option that accounts for debris removable and damage caused by debris.