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Required Townhome Insurance

A couple of years ago the Board voted to require that each homeowner carry their own HO-3 or DP-3 insurance policy, to provide maximum protection for each individual homeowner as well as for the owners of all 120 units collectively, which we commonly refer to as “the HOA.”

Even though all roofs are now 10 years old or newer, some homeowners are still having difficulty obtaining an HO-3 policy, and some who already have HO-3 policies are experiencing extraordinarily high rate increases. Our agent has reassured us that in the event of a covered claim, the association’s Master Insurance policy will cover interior plumbing and electrical, as well as drywall, making a “paint-in” HO-6 policy adequate. Although the Board still has some concerns, in the best interest of all owners, at its meeting on August 5, 2019, the Board voted to lower the insurance requirement to an HO-6, commonly referred to as a “condo” policy.

The Board also wants to make homeowners aware of a separate but related situation that has recently come to our attention. Back in the mid-70’s when The Grove was built, one of the brands of electrical boxes and breakers commonly used was “Zinsco,” and their equipment was installed inside all units in the Grove, as well as on the end of each building for the master breakers and boxes. Following roof replacement this spring, one of the Board members called for a 4 Point Inspection hoping to obtain a lower insurance premium, and learned that: (1) no unit in The Grove will pass a proper 4 Point Inspection due to these Zinsco boxes and master breakers, and (2) many insurance companies will not write policies on properties with Zinsco equipment. If you want more information, please search the Internet for “Zinsco.”

If you purchased your home within the last few years and obtained a home inspection as part of the process, then your inside electrical box and breakers may have already been replaced. If you have owned here for more than a few years and have not replaced your electrical breaker box, then it is most likely still a “Zinsco.” These boxes originally had stickers on the inside that clearly labeled them as “Zinsco,” but these stickers may have been removed or fallen off over the years, so lack of a Zinsco label does not mean the box is not a Zinsco. The Board recommends that each homeowner determine whether he or she has a Zinsco box, and take appropriate action. A quick Internet search reveals, “The average cost to replace an electrical panel ranges from $850 to $2,500 depending on the amperage,” and anecdotal evidence confirms this, with Grove homeowners reporting having recently paid around $1,500.

While our governing documents are not always clear on the issue of owner versus HOA responsibility, the current Board believes that maintenance of the electrical boxes and breakers on the ends of the buildings is the responsibility of the HOA. Unfortunately, with 25 buildings in the complex, replacement of all 25 at once is impossible without a large special assessment which no one wants. We will begin as soon as we can, hopefully before the end of this year, but it is going to take many years to get them all replaced.

Although your insurance choices may be narrower with Zinsco boxes in place, you can obtain insurance with a Zinsco electrical box. The following information is provided as a courtesy to owners, and is not in any way a recommendation or endorsement of any product or company.

People’s Trust Insurance (as long as you are okay with them coming by appointment sometime in the first 90 days of the policy for an inside-out inspection) does not exclude Zinsco boxes.

Security First will write an HO-3 or HO-6 policy, they do not exclude Zinsco boxes, and they do not require a 4 Point Inspection.

Another option is Universal Property, however they only cover from the PAINT in. This won’t do you much good if you have damaged conduit (electrical, pipes, etc.). 

If you are having difficulty finding insurance, you may find help on the website of one of the companies listed above. You can also contact the Board and we will try to help direct you to someone who can help. 

Last but not least, please review your insurance policy to see whether it states the building construction as “frame” or  “masonry.” We have noticed that some of our owners’ policies state “masonry.” Even though our buildings do have brick veneer in places, the construction is frame. According to this article: https://www.adjustersinternational.com/newsroom/denied-6-common-reasons-for-denial-of-a-property-damage-claim, “Post-disaster you can expect your insurance company to send their own adjuster to investigate your claim. If they find anything suspicious or questionable involving the original application for coverage or with the claim itself, it is possible that your claim will be denied.”

Please always consult your own insurance professional or other resources for the best and most up-to-date advice on protecting your home and property.