A tried-and-true tactic for navigating a city as complex as New York: When in doubt, ask a local. That applies to the best way to get from Point A to Point B on the subway, the best neighborhoods to search for an affordable deal on a rental, and the best place to buy an insurance policy that will properly cover you and your belongings in the event of a home-related mishap.
While Geico may be a familiar sounding name, there are some key advantages to going with Gotham Brokerage, a local insurance broker with over 50 years of nitty-gritty experience protecting homes and pocketbooks throughout New York City.
1. You'll get the exactly the right coverage--no more, no less
Geico is a national company, so their apartment insurance poliicies tend to be of the one-size-fits-all variety - a square peg in the decidedly jigsaw shaped hole that is New York City real estate.
"While Geico does a very good job on auto insurance, they and other national 'brands' are not very familiar with the nuances of NYC real estate, including the intricacies of living in older buildings and multi-level dwellings surrounded by other people," says Jeff Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage. "Like other national insurers, Geico has a template that they apply everywhere."
For example, in a doorman building, the likelihood of water damage is much higher than theft, and your insurance should reflect that, says Schneider.
2. You'll save money, one way or another
While policy prices between Geico and the companies Gotham represents are similar, working with a local insurance broker like Gotham drastically reduces the likelihood that you'll be over- or under-insured.
The first saves you money before something happens. The second is a lifesaver if your place is burgled or damaged--by a fire next door or your upstairs' neighbor's overflowing bathtub.
"We know the neighborhoods — and often specific buildings — extremely well," says Gotham's Schneider. "As soon as you tell us where you live we can look up the building, look at apartment prices and prices per square foot and give accurate advice on what kind of policy you should have and how much you should be paying. If you're in fire-resistant doorman building, for example, you should get special credits. A national firm would be less familiar with that."
National insurers are also less familiar with what repairs cost in New York City, and what apartments are worth here, so they might suggest you take out less coverage than you need.
"What happens in that case is you end up having to pay more out of pocket to make the repairs you need once something happens," says Schneider.
3. Things will probably go more smoothly —and quickly — when you actually need to use your insurance
As a local insurance broker that focuses solely on New York City, Gotham agents also know that they'll need approval from your landlord (for renters), from a co-op board (for owner) and sometimes even from the zoning board to fix things up after damage is done. That's something that a national company like Geico is less familiar with so it can take more time and more hassle to familiarize them with the process after a claim. "We know what the buildings want and want the banks want," says Schneider. "And we move quickly."
Plus, as an insurance broker, Gotham can actually advocate for you. "We're your go between," he says. "If it's taking a while to actually get your claim, we'll prod the insurance company to kick it up the chain and will inform you quickly of what the company is waiting for."
4. The personal touch
Some people may prefer to get an email quote and go through the entirety of buying insurance online, but for those who want more personalized service, Gotham offers that, too. "We're happy to speak to you on the phone and give you as many details as you need," says Schneider.
The two principals at Gotham have been there for over 30 years and know the ins and outs of the New York City insurance business. "This is what we do. While we can do things instantly online, we're even happier to give advice," 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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