Strata properties are fast becoming a housing of choice by many Australians. From condos to townhouses, duplexes, single family homes in strata-titled subdivisions, and commercial as well as industrial complexes. Part of the most common perks that draw in people to invest in these properties a
re—convenience, safety and security, added amenities and, of course, better value for their hard-earned money. Today, more than 2 million Australians are bound to various strata title insurance policies.
To someone new in Australia, however, strata title insurance can be a little bit confusing. With this in mind, the following frequently asked questions, a good start to learn about what such insurance entails and your role as a property owner to a strata title.
- What is Strata Title Insurance? Also known as “body corporate insurance”, strata title insurance provides a mantle of protection for common properties like walls, pathways, fences, or stairways, under a strata title entity. It provides adequate coverage to shared facilities and amenities.
- Who are the members of a “body corporate” entity? A body corporate is composed of all the registered owners of a structure, building or facility. Structure or building could be single-home subdivision on strata, a multi-storey apartment, a condominium, a commercial or industrial complex, or a mix-used building.
- Is strata title insurance legally required? YES. Strata title insurance is required for all owners bearing strata-titled properties. If you own an apartment block, a townhouse, a duplex, a warehouse or storage unit, a factory, a retail shop, an industrial depot, or a multi-storied office building, you will be required to submit to a body corporate entity to get coverage for those shared facilities.
- Is strata insurance a sole responsibility or considered as a “group” responsibility? If you own a strata-titled property, you are actually sharing some of the common contents and amenities of a structure. You need to submit to an organized body corporate, which usually manages a collective approach in acquiring an insurance policy. The premium of the said policy will then, be subdivided among strata property owners.
- What does strata title insurance cover? This “collective” insurance policy generally covers the following:
- building or structure
- common contents and amenities including but not limited to—walls and ceiling, lifts or elevators, parking lot, balconies, pools and recreation facility, cables, pipeline, and so on
- liability in the event of injury or fatality within the premises (see new legislation for the amount in each state)
- fidelity guarantee
- personal accident
- officer bearers’ liability
- worker’s compensation (for New South Wales, Tasmania, Northern Territory, and Western Australia)
- Are all strata title insurance the same? Each state and territory in Australia possesses distinctive legislative requirements on strata title insurance. New legislation had been passed in November 2016 in New South Wales. Consider a review or update with your insurer or broker if you are a strata-titled property owner from this state.
- Can you take a separate strata insurance title when you decide to rent-out your space? While a body corporate usually does the honour of representing on your behalf when acquiring or arranging a strata title insurance, you have the duty to double check specific coverage and requirements on paper. If you decide to rent-out a strata-titled space, you have the right to acquire an added safety net in the form of landlord insurance with the inclusion of common or shared facilities or amenities.
- What are common exclusions in strata insurance? Like other insurance policies, a strata title insurance has certain restrictions or exclusions in accordance to an insurer’s terms and conditions. Exclusions may sometimes refer to certain perceived risks like flooding or landslide. It also does not cover contents and personal items.
- Is a strata title insurance all you need to protect your property? Definitely not! Always double check specific conditions on your coverage and acquire another policy to get yourself covered. Residents should acquire insurance for their contents and personal belongings. Landlords, too, must insure not just building and contents but also protection from rental default or loss of income, damages, liability, and so on.
- What specific factors affect calculation of premium to strata title insurance? When computing for premiums, insurer considers the following factors:
- age and condition of property
- replacement cost of the property
- risk profile
- geographic location
- claims history
- stamp duty and GST (insurance government taxes)
- activities usually done on the premises
- excess payment level chosen by body corporate
- common property costs
- fee/commissions to insurance agents