A Closer Look…New York Brick & Brownstones

New York City is known for its beautiful brownstones – from Queens to Manhattan’s Upper Westside to some of Brooklyn neighborhoods including Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Green, Cobble Hill, and Prospect Heights. Insuring these owner- and tenant-occupied properties requires understanding their unique risks and having a program available that can address them. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the New York brick and brownstone market and what to go over with your clients.

Ida Hits the Northeast: Importance of Flood Insurance

When Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, the Northeast at least initially was not expecting to feel its wrath – but that’s exactly what occurred. Ida turned into a tropical storm as it made its way up north and caused massive flooding in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Across these states, residents spent the day coping with water-logged basements, power outages, and damaged roofs. Nearly 50 people have died so far.

The historic flooding from Ida has put the spotlight not only on climate change and the need for infrastructure improvements but also for residents and commercial businesses to understand the critical importance of carrying flood insurance. As with other weather-related events in the past (Hurricane Harvey in Texas, for example), many unfortunately will find they are uninsured. Property data firm CoreLogic in fact estimates that total insured flood loss for residential and commercial properties in the Northeast is estimated to be between $5 billion and $8 billion, while uninsured flood loss for this area is estimated to be between $11 billion and $16 billion.

Distinguished’s New York Brick & Brownstone (NYB&B) Insurance program provides property owners with two to 30 units, including mixed-use, in designated cities with comprehensive property and liability coverage. In addition to insuring brownstones, the program also offers coverage for co-ops, condos, row housing, and apartments in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

Flood insurance is available as part of the NYB&B program for eligible properties, determined at the time coverage is requested. 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 or underground. (Flood coverage does not include seepage or back-up of sewers.)

Coverage is provided as a percentage of the property’s total insurance value (TIV). Limits are available at 10%, 25%, 35%, 50%, and 100%, with a maximum limit of $1 million. Deductible options include a minimum of $25,000 and higher options of $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, $125,000, and $150,000 are available.

A Resilient Market, Review Replacement Cost Values

During the pandemic, Brooklyn, and other outer boroughs of New York, including Queens, continued to be home for their residents and tenants. While many were calling for an urban exodus, property owners and renters stayed put in their brownstones and condos. Brooklyn and Queens brownstones and townhomes offered residents and tenants extra indoor space, some outdoor space, and an ideal place to work from home as offices closed their doors. Brooklyn and Queens continue to thrive while Manhattan real estate is now making a comeback as people return to the city. The pandemic has illustrated the resilience of the NYB&B property segment and the opportunities for insurance agents and brokers to expand their footprint in this space.

Sales prices (which are currently above market in many of these areas) are not indicative of the amount of insurance property owners should be carrying, so it’s important that clients have the right coverage limits in place in the event of an insured property loss. Our NYB&B program offers an option to insure the building for an agreed amount or replacement cost coverage.

Visit the NYB&B section of our website for more information about the program’s features. In addition, you can submit NYB&B business using our online portal.