Flickr photos by dominicotine

Your insurance will cover you against burglary even if you accidentally leave your door wide open. Ignore a leak--or sublet your apartment--and you may not be so lucky.

The main thing to remember about apartment insurance is that you should get some.  Once you have it, there’s not a lot more you need to do other than pay your premiums…and keep in mind a few scenarios that may (or may not) leave you less covered than you think you are.

1.    Subletting your apartment—or using it as a full-time office

Your renter’s, co-op or condo insurance policy generally covers the residence where you live.  

"If it is not a residence—for example, you conduct business there full-time--and/or you do not live there, or you rent it out part time to guests, you do not have the coverage you think you do,” says NYC apartment insurance broker Jeff Schneider, president Gotham Brokerage Co. Inc.

Withholding the info from your broker or insurer means you are spending money on a product that will not help you when you have a claim.

2.    Leaving your front door unlocked

If you leave the front door unlocked or even swinging wide open and you’re burglarized, this won’t void a burglary or theft claim.  

“Everyone does these kinds of things once in a while,” explains Schneider. “That is why you have insurance....”

3.    Forgetting to turn the toaster oven off when you leave the apartment (or storing a roll of paper towels on top of it)

Relax, you're covered: Stupid mistakes in the kitchen are part of the reason you have insurance. 

“Of course we are only talking about unintentional errors, not fraud, like ‘accidentally’ burning up your kitchen in order to pay for a renovation,” says Schneider.

4.    Ignoring a leak (or other looming problem)

Putting off needed maintenance—such as fixing leaks or electrical problems—is especially tempting in a difficult economy.

While the insurance claims that eventually result from these scenarios are often covered, they are more likely to result in policies being cancelled, according to Schneider.

That’s because apartment insurance is not priced to be a maintenance policy, but to cover sudden and accidental damage.  

“If an insurance company suspects that you are waiting for a pipe to break or a tree limb to fall or a roof to blow away so that you can pass on the cost of some work that should have been done a few years ago, they will look to cancel your policy as soon as they can,” he says.  “In New York, they can do that at every third year anniversary of your policy.”

Note that if you are cancelled, the claim information and cancellation information are made available to other insurers, and your history is checked when you apply for a new policy.

“If you have more than one claim in the last three years, you can have a difficult time getting coverage in the normal insurance market,” says Schneider. 

5.    Forgetting to let your insurer know that you’re renovating

Some insurance carriers require you to notify them that you are planning to renovate.  If you don’t, they will penalize you if you file a claim relating to the renovation. 

“It’s also smart to get their advice on the proper insurance your general contractor should be carrying,” 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.

More from Gotham:

The foul-weather guide to apartment insurance: What you need to know about tornados, ice storms, blizzards and more

8 questions you MUST ask before buying renter's insurance

The ultimate co-op and condo insurance checklist

10 things you didn't know were covered by renter's insurance