Understand property insurance to help get the best protection rate that’s right for you
In today’s unpredictable world, buying your ideal condo or co-op in New York City means you’ll need to give some extra thought to your insurance needs. Condo or co-op insurance is different from renter’s insurance — you have to insure the interior structure of your apartment, as well as your contents and liability.
Most building associations, building owners, and mortgage lenders require a higher amount of insurance than they have in the past. In some cases, estimated rebuilding prices are higher than you might expect, especially if you have gotten a Covid-era bargain. Condo or co-op insurance can cost more than a renter’s insurance policy, but also covers a lot more. Also, you’ll likely need to secure your insurance before you can close on your condo or move into your co-op. This can be a chicken or egg proposition, with banks requiring proof of insurance well in advance of an estimating closing date, which is often subject to abrupt change.
An experienced insurance brokerage, like Gotham Brokerage, can help you by issuing the policy that can be reissued with a new effective date if things change. And if your closing does not come off, you get a full refund.
How much does condo or co-op insurance cost in NYC?
There are tiers to the coverage you can buy, depending on your budget, your property, and your goals. Rates will always vary, and you should take the time to get a detailed and accurate quote from a locally trusted insurance agent, like the experts at Gotham Brokerage. Quotes are free and come with no obligations!
“The prices are virtually the same for condo and co-op insurance,” says Jeffrey Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage. “The right degree of coverage is what matters.”
If you already have condo or co-op insurance, the pandemic has made some lasting changes to the local real estate market, and now is a better time than ever to take a new look at your insurance options, according to Schneider. “It’s a good idea to give your current insurance a fresh look. Water damage, broken pipes, theft and burglary are up now that many people are spending more time out of NYC. An overflowing toilet in the apartment above you that might have been a minor issue if you had been home to notice it from inception can turn into major issues if you are away for an extended period.” As for the people who have stayed in the city, many who can afford to do so are renovating — to make work spaces more functional and to make our extended at home time more enjoyable. Renovation work can impact the validity of your insurance, especially if you are not in residence or the work is in terms of expense or duration. You have to check in with your insurer to verify.
Degrees of condo and co-op insurance coverage
Basic: “A basic policy for $300 to $400 or so would cover $25,000 of contents, $20,000 for the walls and floors, and $100,000 of third-party liability. Exact pricing varies by location, credit score, and underwriter approval,” Schneider says. A basic policy comes with $100,000 of liability insurance and covers events like someone tripping on a rug and being injured in your apartment, a neighbor who gets bitten by your dog, or, more commonly, water damage to someone else’s property from your overflowing tub, washing machine or toilet.
Good: Considering that it costs at least $250 per square foot to rebuild an average NYC apartment, you could use up the allowance of basic coverage pretty quickly in the event of extensive water or fire damage. A policy that costs $450 to $600 a year will cover up to $50,000 of your contents, $50,000 for walls and floors, and offers $300,000 in liability coverage.
Excellent: If you’re buying an apartment in the mid-six-figures or higher, you’ll probably want to spend more. Insuring a 1,100-square-foot prewar apartment worth $1 million would cost around $1,100 to $2,400 annually—depending on location and expansiveness of policy terms—with $100,000 contents coverage, $300,000 walls-and-floors coverage, and $1 million liability coverage.
Why do I need property insurance? Isn’t my building insured?
One of the most common mistakes buyers of condos and co-ops make is assuming the building is insured. The truth is that the building is insured, but that typically means that only the concrete “box” of your apartment is covered.
Your movable contents, as well as the interior structure of your apartment, are not covered. This includes the surfaces of the walls and floors; the built-in fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom; and the value of any renovation work that has been done by you or prior owners. And in most cases, property insurance is mandatory. It is usually a requirement of your building or mortgage lender.
Factors that affect the price you will pay for co-op and condo insurance
Insurance rates in NYC have been trending up. National weather claims, and, more specifically, NYC water damage claims, have generated losses and pushed up costs. But coverage is still affordable. “We are seeing some increases in some areas,” said Schneider. “Our infrastructure is getting older, and lots of 80 year old pipes have hit their limit.”
How much coverage you want is a significant factor in how much you will pay, but it’s not the only one. Other variables that impact your cost include zip code, building construction, and your insurance score, the last one being an assessment of your risk based on prior claim activity and your credit score. How close you are to water is also important. If you live on or near the water, you might have a higher risk for storm, wind or flooding damage. “Crime rates do not have a huge impact. But if you have a location by the water, you often cannot get standard coverage. However, there are a small number of companies that insure properties in flood zones. A company like Gotham Brokerage can help you find them.”
Some factors that can work in your favor to help you get the best rate include having sprinkler and alarm systems, living in a doorman building, and phone-based security apps or systems like Nest. (Anything that adds an additional level of security or reduces risk is in your favor.) Jewelry also requires a separate policy. Rates vary widely by location, but jewelry ranges from $10 to $40 per year per thousand dollars of value. Professional equipment usually requires a separate policy with separate underwriting and policy minimums that can be $250 to $800 and up. Significant art pieces should be insured separately as well. If you have specific questions about how to get the best rates, fill out our form here to speak with a Gotham Brokerage agent.
Co-op & Condo insurance protects against loss due to fire, water damage from broken pipe and overflows, burglary, and other perils. It also protects you from liability due to damage caused to the property of others. An overflowing toilet, sink or broken washer hose could lead to water damage that seeps through the floor and wrecks the ceilings — or the art collection — in your downstairs neighbor’s unit. Without insurance, you would be on the hook for those damages.
How much condo and co-op insurance do I need?
Now that you know the kind of insurance you’ll need to protect yourself and your property, you’ll need to carry the right amount of insurance that meets the requirements of your building. You should talk to a qualified insurance professional like Gotham Brokerage to be sure you get it right.
How do I get a free quote for specific pricing?
That’s easy. Get a customized quote here. We’ve been helping renters, homeowners, condo owners and co-op tenants properly protect themselves, their condos and their belongings for decades – and we’re local. We know the ins and outs of NYC real estate and your cost will be no greater that it would be by working directly with a National insurance firm. In fact, we will likely save you money because we review your needs personally, not based on a generically based system that doesn’t figure in NYC nuances.