Condo insurance in Brooklyn
November 10, 2011 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Condo insurance in New York City for a pair of n00bs.

My SO and I are looking into condo insurance in Brooklyn, and since we're new to this, I turn to you, the hive mind, for helpful hints, suggestions, or warnings.

What should we look out for, other than the obvious? Our property is under a half-million, and we need the insurance to cover at least 20% of the condo's value. The only items of notable value in our condo are computers and cameras.
posted by Sticherbeast to Work & Money (4 answers total)
At least 20% of the condo's value? Why that little? Do that and you're going to be way underinsured. It's always better to have a little more insurance than you need to need more insurance than you've got, especially since the marginal price for higher limits tends to be quite low. You'd think that a $100,000 policy would cost five times as much as a $20,000 policy, but it rarely does. The reason is that larger losses are less frequent than smaller losses, so the $20,000 policy is much more likely to wind up paying out its full limits than the $100,000 policy.

Get yourself an insurance agent. Provide that agent with a copy of your condo association agreement, which will spell out exactly what it is that you own and therefore need to insure. Not all condos are set up the same way. Some condos properties include the land on which the dwelling is located but not the actual lot. Some include the entire structure but not the land. Some include the entire box, interior walls included, but not the exterior walls or roof. Others are just from the paint on the walls in, i.e. none of the actual structure but all of the contents. Even if you're in a high-rise, you could be looking at either of the last two or some combination thereof. It's important to make sure you buy the right kind of coverage so that you don't either wind up paying for coverage you don't need or needing coverage you don't have.

In addition, personal electronics are frequently subject to a sub-limit distinct, i.e. even if your policy has property limits of $100,000, you only get $5,000 (or whatever) for electronics. And if they're used for business, they may be excluded entirely, meaning you'll need a separate rider for them.

Also, because of the way insurance products are sold, you'll also wind up buying liability insurance to go along with this. This will include not only premises liability, i.e. coverage in case someone gets hurt on your property, but also coverage for all sorts of other torts, basically everything that doesn't involve cars (which is what personal auto policies are for). Here you want to make sure that you've got adequate coverage to cover your assets--maybe even get an umbrella/excess liability policy if you're well off--but don't go nuts here.

All of this is stuff that you can work out with an agent. I'd recommend going with one of the big guys, e.g. State Farm, All State, or Progressive, etc. They keep pretty good control of their agent force, so you can probably just pick up a local phone book and pick an agent within a few blocks and be fine.
posted by valkyryn at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2011

It is now required to have homeowner's insurance for any real estate property which includes condominiums. So, now an additional cost!

If you shop just like you shop for any other insurance (car, house) and ask the representatives for quotes, ask for their deductible, what kind of damage they cover (flooding from another unit, fire, smoke, theft, etc.) and figure out what is most cost effective and most important to you. Most of them are pretty competitive. They may already cover things like computers and cameras and even jewelry. You may have to give them a rough estimate on what the cost of the contents of your home is in total. Think about that before you call for quotes.

I would call or e-mail a few and see what quotes they come back with. Ask them to put it in writing and either send it to you in the mail or in PDF form so that you can compare. This company may help you gather the best quotes from a few different companies at once.
posted by Yellow at 12:20 PM on November 10, 2011

Oh, by the way, I live in Brooklyn and I own a condo.
posted by Yellow at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2011

First you should find out what's covered by the building's policy. Our building's policy covered everything that was in the unit when I bought it (it was newly constructed), including the carpets, cabinets, appliances, etc.

You might consider increasing the coverage for expenses from displacement (if you have to live elsewhere for a while due to a fire or what have you). A friend had to rent an apartment for a year following a fire, and her expenses were covered the whole time, but most of her neighbors only had enough coverage to last a few months.
posted by amarynth at 12:22 PM on November 10, 2011

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