The Real.Est List
The foul-weather guide to apartment insurance: What you need to know about tornados, ice storms, blizzards and more
Fortified by its vast network of underground transportation and buried power lines, New York City is a foul-weather paradise--meaning that most times, you can pretty much go about your business uninterrupted by extreme weather events that bring the suburbs to their flooded/powerless/snowcapped knees.
But as snug as you may (rightfully) feel in your highrise, lowrise, or brownstone apartment, your home and possessions are still vulnerable to the vagaries of Mother Nature.
"While apartment buildings generally have fewer weather-related claims than rural or suburban houses, each year we see dozens of claims for frozen and broken pipes, trees blown through roofs and walls, ice damming and overflows," says Jeff Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc., one of NYC's oldest purveyors of co-op, condo and renter’s insurance.
Assuming you have apartment insurance (and if you don’t, may we respectfully suggest that you get some), here is what you’re covered for, and what you’re not, according to Schneider:
1. High winds
If your neighbor’s outdoor furniture careens through your bedroom window in a nasty windstorm, you’re covered not only for the damage to your window and apartment, but also for the ensuing water damage if your place is exposed to rain.
2. Power outages
The problem with blackouts, snapped power lines and the like isn’t so much the time you spend in the dark. It’s the power surges that often occur at the moment power comes back on.
Such surges can and do burn out everything from your microwave, to your Subzero fridge to your flat screen television….and it’s all covered by your insurance.
“We see it maybe 20 to 30 times a year,” says Schneider.
Computer equipment is covered too, though many people these days have surge protectors to reduce the possibility of damage.
3. Falling trees
You’re covered for the damage plus the removal of a tree that crashes through the roof of, for instance, your brownstone apartment. Note that if you own the brownstone and the tree falls down (into your yard for example) without touching the house, you’ll have to foot most of the cost of tree removal yourself, which can run several thousand and up with a unionized employee.
Note: If you have a dying tree on your property that you know about but neglect to have removed, and it falls and damages your neighbor or his property, you could be sued personally for damages.
“The personal liability section of your policy will cover it—and after the claim is paid, the company may well look askance at the upkeep of your property. An insurance policy is not supposed to be a maintenance contract. If it used that way, your policy may well be cancelled," says Schneider.
4. Snow and ice
Two kinds of damages can result from a large amount of snow and/or ice on the roof.
Worst case: The roof could actually cave in (this is most common in a 2-3 family homes), in which case your policy would spring for the damages as well as any subsequent damage from water getting in.
Alternatively, if there’s a ton of snow and ice on the roof that freezes and thaws over and again, water can work its way under the eaves and through exterior walls--and into your apartment. The damage will be covered.
If, however, water just seeps its way through a brick wall that hasn’t been properly pointed or sealed, this would most likely not be covered by apartment insurance
5. Freezing temperatures
Winter vacations and subfreezing temperatures can lead to burst pipes if the heat is turned down or off.
“These tend to happen in older buildings where a pipe was installed improperly and without insulation next to an exterior wall," says Schneider.
Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc., an insurance brokerage, has been serving NYC renters, co-op and condo owners for over 45 years. For a free quote, click on over to Gotham Brokerage or give them a call at 212-406-7300.
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