New York Brick & Brownstone Insurance: A Broker’s Guide

Brick and brownstone residential buildings grace New York City’s leafy avenues, from Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens. Just take a stroll down Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights, for example, and you’ll find yourself on the kind of New York City street you imagined as a child – a cobblestone lane lined with historic brownstones. Or visit parts of the Upper East Side where the streets are lined with cherry-red brick townhouses dating back to the 19th century.

Some of these New York brick and brownstone residences are owner-occupied, while others are occupied by tenants. Insuring them takes experience, as these buildings come with unique risks and a special set of needs. In this guide, we discuss insurance options for these historic homes, what New York Brick & Brownstone insurance covers, and its costs.

What Is New York Brick & Brownstone Insurance?

To adequately protect brick and brownstone owners and tenants against financial losses, a comprehensive insurance program should include both Liability and Property insurance. But there are certain enhancements and coverage features that should be included because of the buildings’ unique characteristics, location, and occupancy.

The Age of These Buildings Requires Specific Coverages

Due to the age of these structures, Ordinance or Law coverage should be included in the Property form. If there is damage to the structure and it must be upgraded to meet current building codes during the rebuild, the policy will help pay for these additional expenses, including demolition costs if required.

These older buildings also have exposure to loss from sewer and drain backup. The owner of a brick or brownstone building is responsible for maintaining the main sewer line, including any portion of the line that extends into the street or public right of way. These main sewer lines can easily deteriorate, crack, collapse, or become obstructed over time and cause significant damage.

Be Sure Loss of Rental Income Is Covered

Business Income coverage is essential for owners of mixed-use properties (with a mercantile risk) and rental properties in order to respond in the event of a covered loss that temporarily closes the storefront while repairs are made. You want to ensure that the client has coverage to help pay for lost revenue and ongoing expenses.

New York’s Labor Laws Require Extra Liability Care

Liability protection is essential as it is with any building, but in New York, the owner of the building along with the contractor can be sued if a worker suffers any type of elevation-related injury while on the job. Risk-transfer requirements must be acquired through written contract for the following parties: commercial tenants and third-party vendors/contracts. If this practice is not complied with as outlined below, the risk will not be eligible for the program:

  1.  Insured is provided with Certificate of Insurance as proof of Liability coverage:
  2. Minimum underlying limits: $1 million occurrence/personal injury and advertising injury and $2 million general/products aggregate
  3. Insured is to be added as an additional insured and held harmless by all applicable parties
  4. All outside contractors working in the insured’s building(s) or on the premises should furnish the following:
    1. Certificates of Insurance indicating the insured as additional insured
    2. The contractor should also provide coverage for the insured on their Commercial General Liability policy as an additional insured and on their contractor’s policy. Contractors must also provide their Workers Compensation and DBL policies.
  5. Indemnification Agreement – Hold Harmless
    1. The insured should also require the contractor and its subcontractor(s) to indemnify the insured and hold the insured harmless in regard to the work the contractor is performing (Under NY Labor Law).

These risk-transfer techniques will reduce the insured’s liability exposure in the event of an occurrence involving the general public or an employee of the contractor.

If requested, we can provide a sample indemnification agreement. Please make sure that the indemnity language is inserted in all of the insured’s construction contracts.

The insured should maintain on file a current Certificate of Insurance from commercial tenants with the insured as an additional named insured.

What Does Our New York Brick & Brownstone Insurance Program Cover?

Distinguished New York Brick & Brownstone insurance covers the basics with Property and General Liability insurance in addition to the coverages listed above. Other coverage features that address the unique characteristics of these buildings include:

  • Agreed Amount available on Building Coverage
  • Replacement Cost
  • Equipment Breakdown
  • Terrorism
  • Employee Theft & Dishonesty

Our General Liability policy offers coverage of $1 million/$2 million.

Additionally, we can provide Flood insurance in certain locations as well as Earthquake coverage. The Flood portion of the program will cover overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid runoff of surface waters from any source, and mudslides caused or precipitated by an accumulation of water on the surface or underground.

On the General Liability side, we offer Employee Benefits Liability, and can add Non-owned & Hired Auto Liability insurance.

What Is the Cost of New York Brick & Brownstone Insurance?

The cost of insurance for New York Brick & Brownstone buildings varies greatly depending on exposure factors such as unit count, construction type, location, coverage limits, deductibles. Providing an accurate quote involves getting specific details on each building. To give an idea of pricing, here some examples of actual insurance quotes based on location, size of the building, occupancy, and total insured value.

Brooklyn2 units, owner occupied~$4,100,000~$6,325
Brooklyn4 units, rental~$1,725,000~$5,449
Brooklyn2 units, rental with mercantile~$829,000~$5,335
Brooklyn4 units, condominium~$1,700,000~$5,280
Manhattan2 units, rental~$3,040,000~$5,052
Manhattan3 units, rental with mercantile~$1,140,000~$6,601
Manhattan4 units, condominium~$5,090,000~$10,807
Manhattan13 units, condo with mercantile~$2,285,000~$10,566

What Sets Us Apart Will Set You Apart, Too

Distinguished offers flexibility and additional added value with our program, helping you to differentiate your agency in the market. We cover the three boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens – where you find brick and brownstone buildings. We can cover up to 30 units. We write co-ops, brownstones, row housing, apartment buildings, and owner-occupied 2-4 unit properties.

The are no age restrictions with our program, which is a good thing, as these buildings are indeed old. The building has to pass inspections and other specific requirements.

We insure residential properties that include mixed-use properties as long as 50% of the building is residential.

For owner-occupied 2-4 unit properties, we can provide Personal Liability insurance to protect the client’s personal assets as well. We also provide Additional Living Expense coverage and insurance to protect the owner’s valuables (jewelry, fine art, antiques, etc.).

Clients have access to Sedgwick Repair Services, which provides vetted, trusted contractors for renovation or repair work in the event of claim. Sedgwick also provides clients with an Iron Clad WarrantyTM that guarantees a contractor’s labor and workmanship beyond the standard one-year warranties. Property owners don’t have to worry about whether they are getting scammed, as Sedgwick is doing the vetting for them.

Beyond New York Brick & Brownstone Insurance

Distinguished also offers insurance programs for other types of buildings and in cities beyond the Big Apple. Check out our programs for City Multi-family, City Condo, City Landlord and Community Associations. We’ve got city homes insurance covered – so can you.

Getting a Quote Is Easy with Distinguished

First you need to register as a broker via our portal. It’s quick and fast. Then get a quote by completing our online application. It will take about five minutes, and you’re ready to go and sell. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out to an insurance expert.

About Distinguished Programs

Distinguished Programs is a leading national insurance Program Manager providing specialized insurance programs to brokers and agents with specific expertise in Real Estate, Community Associations, Hotels, and Restaurants. Property and liability products are distributed through a national network of agents and brokers. Serving the same core markets and partnering with the most stable and reputable carriers, Distinguished Programs’ high-limit umbrella programs remain the clear choice in its areas of specialty for superior coverage, competitive pricing, and attentive service. Through thoughtful innovation, stemming back to 1995, Distinguished Programs fosters growth and opportunities for its brokers, carriers, and employees.

View a full list of our programs and submit business with Distinguished.

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