City Homes Insurance Trends and New Updates

Housing in city environments is different from what you find in suburbia and has a unique set of needs. For the most part, city homes are made up of condos, apartments, and multi-family mixed-use buildings. Often times you’ll find that at least one of the units is owner-occupied. So just from this description, totally different needs and risks than your standard homeowners’ policy.

That’s where the program known as City Homes comes in. Currently available in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Chicago, Pittsburg, Boston, Philadelphia, Washing D.C, Baltimore, and the NJ Gold Coast, the City Homes Insurance Program (CHIP) is a specialized package designed for small urban multi-family and mixed-used buildings.

We’re Making It Easier To Find The City Home Program

City homes are not skyscraper apartment complexes, instead, they have anywhere from two to one hundred units, with two to fifteen units being the sweet spot. A brownstone converted into a duplex or a building with a restaurant on the ground floor and apartments above are examples of what a city home may look like.

With a nondescript name like “city homes,” however, the ideal client is unclear. To better reflect the product, we’ve divided the City Homes program into City Landlords, City Multifamily, and City Condo – so you and your clients can better find what you need.

Highlights of the Program

The beauty of a specialty program is that insurance liability professionals with in-depth domain expertise have already put together coverage that is designed specifically for your type of client. City Homes are an ideal candidate for specialty insurance. They can require specific coverages like Crime and Building Ordinance.

Mixed-use buildings are common. And buildings in an urban environment tend to be older, which can make finding insurance a challenge due to building-age limitations. With a collection of distinct risks, it is no wonder that city homes often go underinsured.

Trends We Are Seeing in the Market

As COVID-19 keeps tenants and owners in their homes, we are seeing more claims involving human error. Katie Vespia, Program Manager for, Distinguished’s NY Brick and Brownstone and City Homes programs, explained, “Prior to COVID, individuals were leaving their homes on average eight to 10 hours a day, but in the wake of COVID, people are now doing more electronically – with remote work, homeschooling, and home entertainment the norm. People created home offices, for example, and use more electricity in older buildings that aren’t equipped with the amperage to meet their additional needs. We saw an uptick in the frequency of fire claims for a couple of months yet it’s still too early to discern whether this is a reflection of COVID and will continue as people work from home or it was just a hiccup.”

Some property owners are considering reducing their Replacement Cost coverage to lower insurance costs, but this runs the risk of a catastrophic loss. If disaster strikes and the amount needed to rebuild the property exceeds the Replacement Cost coverage, “the property will be underinsured and the insured will be responsible for making up the difference,” says Katie. Ordinance coverage is another insurance pain point for property owners, as it is critical, yet few properties have it.

More people are home than ever before and more potential losses, making it critical that property owners secure adequate coverage. Our program underwriters are constantly examining the changing market and are experts on the risks of a city home. With a specialty package like ours, brokers are able to address their urban home clients’ special needs with ease.

Ensure that your clients have the appropriate coverage. Learn more about Distinguished’s City Homes Program.