New York’s geographical diversity requires you to take a massive mental leap from farm fields to major metropolitan cities.
That’s what makes the state tough to pigeonhole into a “one size fits all” homeowners insurance category. It’s impossible to lump even entire regions together, as you could live on the coast in the east or in the mountains in the west—and your insurance needs are different on either end.
Whether you are looking for a new insurance policy or have never taken out homeowners’ insurance in the past, there are several things you should know before you make a final decision.
Here are the facts about homeowners’ insurance in New York, including details on what a basic policy does cover, and what it doesn’t.
Average annual premium in New York
Home insurance costs in New York are close to the national average, with New York’s average premiums often between $1,000 and $1,200. By comparison, residents in Idaho average just under $600 and Florida residents can expect to pay an average of about $2,000.
Averages, of course, include highs and lows and everything in between. Individual rates will vary based on the insured value of your home, selected coverage options and limits, and your level of “risk” as determined by each insurer.
Finding the best premium for your home
Finding the best home insurance premium is part shopping and part learning—what affects your premium, which options are worthwhile additions, and also which discounts are available.
Like many things in life, the cheapest solution may not be the best solution for the long run. Home insurance premiums are based on risk and insured value or coverage amount. Insurance companies determine our “risk” using numerous factors but a few of the big ones are as follows:
- Prior claim history
- Prior insurance history
Insurers use these and other criteria to determine your “Insurance Score”, which is a soupy number that nobody except insurance underwriters for that company understands because we don’t fully know exactly what’s in it or how each factor is weighed—and the weighted criteria is different for each insurer.
There’s no standard for an insurance score but many companies use the term, emphasizing that it’s different than a credit score. Make no mistakes about it, though. Credit plays a big role in an insurance score. Your insurance score is a measure of your risk of making a claim and is used in calculating premiums.
If your credit isn’t in the best shape, you might be disappointed when shopping with some well-known insurers. Some smaller and regional insurers do not use credit as a rating factor. Claims history and prior coverage history should be expected to weighed in premiums with all insurers.
Inclement weather in New York
While not as hurricane-prone as some southern states, New York has seen its share of storms as the state’s 130 miles of coastline provide easy access for storms coming up the coast.
Areas like Long Island that jut out into the Atlantic tend to get more storms, but even the rough-and-tumble city of New York is vulnerable. The surge from Hurricane Sandy flooded Battery Park with over 14 feet of saltwater and debris, causing massive damage both to property and infrastructure. Residents of upstate New York are no strangers to snow and ice, where the white stuff falls by the foot in the wintertime.
Further North, New York residents near Lake Ontario get their winter workouts shoveling lake effect snow brought as storms pick up moisture from the lake and drop it on their homes in massive amounts. A 2007 snowstorm buried the Tug Hill region, East of Lake Ontario, in nearly 12 feet of snow. New York State isn’t immune to tornadoes, but the state sees less of them than some other states. However, flash floods can be a huge concern in some areas as rainwater runs down from New York’s numerous mountain ranges flooding its rivers and valleys.
New York’s unique mix of weather creates more than a temporary inconvenience, it can be a real risk to homes and the contents within. Having a homeowners policy that covers more than just the basics is imperative.
It’s important to note that floods aren’t covered by a standard home insurance policy. This leaves both the building and personal property without coverage from damage from floods—unless a separate flood insurance policy is purchased.
While offered through insurance companies and independent agents, most flood insurance policies are actually underwritten through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA maps areas with regard to flood risk, which is usually a combination of elevation and proximity to water.
Floods are a common source of confusion for insured homeowners, with many consumers expecting that floods will be covered by their homeowners insurance policy. The short answer is that some conditions that look like a flood will be covered, but a real flood requires a special policy for coverage.
The key to coverage due to water is often the source of the water. If a pipe bursts and floods the kitchen, that’s not a flood—and it’s a valid homeowners insurance claim. If a storm blows off part of the roof and the rainwater is filling up the house, that’s a valid home insurance claim as well.
However, if rainwater or water from an outside source touched the ground before coming into the house, that’s a flood—and it’s not covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Water can be extremely damaging to a home and the personal belongings inside the home.
Another area of confusion is water damage that occurs over time, such as from roof damage, a leaking pipe joint, or a clogged gutter. These are all maintenance items, and while they may cause a sudden failure, the damage was not sudden.
Neither a homeowners insurance policy or a flood insurance policy would cover these instances. The terms “sudden” and “accidental” are keys to gaining a better understanding of your insurance. Generally speaking, both of these words must apply for coverage to apply.
Most affordable cities
Home insurance rates are largely based on insured value and characteristics that can indicate the risk of a claim. However, location can play a role in home insurance rates as well.
Some areas may have newer homes or less crime. Other areas may be more prone to weather-related claims. Even labor costs for construction and rebuilding can be factors in your premium.
Where your home is located can make a big difference in the cost of your home insurance. Some of the most affordable cities in New York for home insurance include:
- New Rochelle
- Saratoga Springs
Most expensive cities
Among some of the more expensive cities in New York for home insurance are:
- Long Island City
- Fresh Meadows
- Rockaway Point
Top picks for New York
Although not as well known as some of the major insurers, Amica has been writing insurance since 1956 and auto insurance policies since 1907. Amica is a mutual insurance company, meaning that its customers are its owners, and the company offers a dividend on select policies.
Recently, Amica was awarded JD’ Power’s “Highest Customer Satisfaction Among National Homeowner Insurers” for the 16th year in a row, proving the company’s commitment to customer service and claims satisfaction. Among Amica’s home insurance products is a policy they call Platinum Choice Home, which offers Special Form coverage for both dwelling (the house) and for Personal Property (personal belongings). Special Form coverage is the best home insurance policy type available because it covers all perils except those which are specifically excluded.
Many homeowners insurance policies only cover certain risks and can leave customers without coverage for serious damage to their homes. As further evidence that the Platinum Choice Policy means business, it also provides full replacement cost coverage for personal belongings and water backup and sump overflow coverage are standard with this policy.
These are add-ons (if available) with many other insurers, and can create unpleasant surprises for consumers who don’t have these coverages when disaster strikes.
If you live in New York, it’s likely that you have an Allstate Agent close to your home. Allstate has one of the largest agent networks among the nationwide insurers, providing easy access to someone knowledgeable about your policy features who can answer questions and provide guidance on coverage.
Founded in 1931, Allstate began by selling auto insurance, branching out into other lines over the years and selling its first residential fire policy in 1954. Allstate’s home insurance policies have come a long way since their first rudimentary policies.
The publicly-held insurer now uses sophisticated software to calculate dwelling coverage needs and offers several types of home insurance in New York, including standard homeowners insurance, renters or condo insurance, mobile home insurance, and landlord insurance. Most agents can also write a flood policy, if needed.
Bundling discounts are available with Allstate as well as a plethora of other discounts, particularly for new customers. Customers who purchase a home insurance policy before their current policy expires can earn an early signing discount, new home buyers can qualify for a discount, and customers who are new to Allstate can save an additional 10 percent on their home insurance policy.
These savings add up and are especially helpful as new-home expenses creep into wallets.
A variety of add-on or expanded coverages help to provide more complete protection for your home with a Travelers homeowners insurance policy. Options such as replacement cost coverage, which covers your belongings for the true amount it will cost to replace them, and special personal property coverage, which protects your belongings in more situations away from home, help to fill in some of the gaps often found in a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Travelers primarily sells its policies through independent agents, expanding its presence and assuring that customers can find local support. An independent agent represents a number of companies, which is good for consumers because if a Travelers policy isn’t the best value for a particular situation, an independent agent has other options to provide coverage—and if Travelers is the best pick, they earned your business above other available options.
Captive Agents, such as Allstate or State Farm usually only sell policies from one insurer, although some can offer products outside of the brand. In additional to having expanded coverage options, customers who purchase a Travelers home insurance policy will enjoy an assortment of discounts, including:
- Multi-Policy Discount (Save up to 15%)
- New Home Buyer Discount
- Green Home Discount (Save up to 5%)
Like many home insurers in our roundup, Liberty Mutual, founded in 1912, has been protecting its customers for a long time. Liberty Mutual is a mutual insurer, meaning the company is owned by its customers as opposed to public or private investors.
Since its beginnings, the company has found helpful and clever ways to provide additional value for its customers, such as personal property replacement service, which locates replacements for personal items damaged in a covered claim and ships them to your door.
Liberty Mutual’s homeowners insurance policies cover all the expected basics, including dwelling coverage, personal property coverage, and personal liability coverage—but also make available some extras, such as its Home Protector Plus, which pays for unexpected cost overruns when repairing or rebuilding your home or replacing your personal property.
Additionally, high-value items can be insured on your homeowners policy as a rider, preventing the need for a separate personal articles policy in many cases. Discounts abound at Liberty Mutual, helping to assure that most customers will qualify for at least a few of its numerous discounts. Bundling home and auto with Liberty Mutual can earn discounts on both policies.
Claims-free customers coming from other carriers can save and customers who remain claims-free with Liberty Mutual can also earn a discount. Planning ahead can save money on premiums as well for customers who start a quote before their policy with their current insurer expires.
Among the largest home insurers in the nation, State Farm is well-known for its vast agent network. Wherever you’re located in New York, it’s likely that there’s a local State Farm agent nearby who can provide service and guide you through your coverage options.
State farm also shines in its selection of products, providing real coverage solutions for anyone from renters to homeowners to landlords. Many insurers focus on homeowners insurance and aren’t as strong on other residential policies.
However, sometimes customers own more than one property and need more than one type of policy. State Farm fills this need better than some other major insurers. Homeowners insurance coverages with State Farm will include dwelling coverage, personal liability coverage, and personal property coverage up to your chosen coverage limits and subject to your deductibles.
However, valuable personal items, such as jewelry, may require a separate personal articles policy. The good news is that a State Farm personal articles policy can be purchased on just about anything, including items that may puzzle other insurers and agents—like personal drones. Discounts for bundling (home and auto) with State Farm are generous and the company is usually priced competitively on its home insurance products, often beating many well-known insurers on rates.
Insurance rates are subjective, however, and each individual is rated based on their own history, risk profile, and coverage amounts. Impact-resistant roofs can qualify for a discount as can homes with burglar or fire alarms.
Homeowners and renters in New York state have no shortage of home insurer options. Shopping around for price, but just as importantly, policy features, can help you to find a home insurance policy that meets both your needs and your budget.
Look for policy extras such as replacement cost coverage and low deductible options to help insure that your insurance doesn’t create the risk of large out-of-pocket expenses in exchange for quick coverage or a low price.
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Your home is your castle and it makes sense to invest a little time to ensure that your home is insured properly.