How to avoid voiding your NYC apartment insurance

Common scenarios can trip up renters when it comes to insurance

Our friends at Brick Underground recently tapped Gotham Brokerage for advice with a thorny issue: Renters who do things that can jeopardize their NYC renter’s insurance coverage.

Renter’s insurance is an inexpensive shield against loss, and at $10 to $20 a month for a basic policy, it’s a bargain. But buying insurance doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to ignore potential perils. That’s why we warned Brick Underground readers about 5 careless moves that may (or may not) void your apartment insurance.

From the article:

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.

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….”

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.

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.

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 has been helping craft apartment insurance policies for New Yorkers for 50 years. We’re a family owned business based in Manhattan that has an A+ rating from the Better Business Association. To request a quote, use the form at right or give us a call at 212-406-7300.

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