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Disaster Insurance in New York

Disaster insurance can also be called hazard insurance. It protects businesses and residences from disasters like winter storms, floods, wildfires, tropical storms, high winds, tornadoes, and landslides in New York. While the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) regulates most insurance policies, flood insurance from causes outside the insured home is administered and regulated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The DFS also educates New York residents on how to prepare for disasters and how to reduce losses.

Natural disasters like hailstorms, thunderstorms, heavy rains, high winds, wildfires, and storms, cannot be purchased individually; they are usually covered under a standard property insurance policy in New York. New York has insurance policies for specific natural disasters like flood insurance and earthquake insurance. Flood insurance will only protect against damages caused by floodwaters, and earthquake insurance will only protect against damages caused by earthquakes. It is essential that property owners purchase disaster insurance policies for the most prevalent disasters in their region. This is because you cannot interchange one natural disaster policy for the other. For instance, if earthquake insurance was purchased and the insured property experiences flood damage or a storm surge, the insurance company is not liable to pay for any resulting damages.

Property owners can search for the addresses of their properties on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to assess the flood risks in their regions. To avoid issues in the future due to being wrongly insured, speak with a licensed New York disaster insurance agent to help determine the required disaster insurance policy based on the prevalent disaster in your city.

What is Disaster Insurance?

Disaster insurance, also called catastrophe or hazard insurance, provides coverage for unpredictable natural disasters that could damage properties and resources. Disaster insurance is essential for individuals who live in or have businesses in cities or counties prone to natural disasters. For instance, New York is prone to storm surges and floods due to its extensive coastal geography. Therefore, New York residents are advised to purchase flood insurance to protect their properties.

Do Disasters Need Insurance Coverage?

Yes, disasters need insurance because damages from disasters are too expensive to cover out of pocket. In New York, residential and business property insurance does not protect against extreme weather disasters like floods and hurricanes, which are common along the Atlantic coast. It is, therefore, necessary to purchase stand-alone disaster insurance policies. Natural disasters are usually unexpected, and even though the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has devised several methods to mitigate the level of destruction, the damage may still be quite extensive and costly to repair.

New York is prone to floods, large hailstones, heavy rains, and tropical cyclones. These weather disasters can result in the partial or total destruction of residential and commercial properties. For instance, Hurricane Sandy resulted in damages worth over $18 billion, with over 40 thousand people rendered homeless, countless resources wasted, and several businesses destroyed. With disaster insurance, your home or business buildings and property will be covered in the event of any natural disaster in the future. It is important to speak with a New York-licensed disaster insurance agent who can assess your disaster insurance needs and help you select the most adequate and pocket-friendly coverage.

What Types of Natural Disasters are Common in New York?

The natural disasters common in New York include:

  • Floods: New York is one of the states that are highly prone to flood events due to extremely high tides, intense rain storms, heavy rainfall, overflowing rivers, and extensive waterfronts. While New York state has over 2,625 miles of coastline, NYC alone covers over 500 miles of it, with several rivers and canals channeling into the city’s interior. New York state residents expect flooding annually, and this usually occurs between spring and fall, which is from March to June for the spring season, and September to November for the fall season. With the average cost of flood insurance of around $700, New York homeowners spend over $200 million annually on residential flood coverage alone. Over $40 billion is spent in the United States annually to repair damages caused by floods. According to recent research, sea levels are expected to increase by 8 to 30 inches by 2050 due to ice melting, which may cause more flooding, especially in the coastal areas.

  • Hurricanes and Storms: Hurricanes are also called tropical cyclones and are one of the most common natural disasters in New York. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hurricanes are sustained horizontal winds of over 72mph and can flatten anything in their path. Nearly a million of single-family homes across the state are at risk of storm surges, while over 3.4 million homes are exposed to the possible damage of the accompanying winds. With hurricanes occurring usually at least one per year - make sure that you have enough hurricane and associated flooding damage protection.

Hurricanes to directly or indirectly affect the state of New York in recent history:

  • Hurricanes Ida and Henry - in 2021 - est. $75 billion in total damage

  • Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta, and Eta - in 2020 - est. $35 billion in total damage

  • Hurricanes Gert and Dorian - in 2019 - est. $5 billion in total damage

  • Hurricane Michael - in 2018 - est. $25 billion in total damage

  • Hurricane Matthew - in 2016 - est. $16 billion in total damage

  • Hurricane Arthur - in 2014 - est. $39 billion in total damage

  • Hurricane Sandy in 2012 - est. $68 billion in total damage, with over $19 billion in NYC alone.

  • Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, in 2011 - est. $17 billion in total damage

NOTE: Hurricanes may also spawn localized tornadoes. While a tornado is a naturally occurring event, damage caused by wind is usually covered by the standard homeowners, condo, or landlord insurance.

  • Wildfires: In 2018, over 800 acres of land were destroyed by wildfires in New York. Several thousand acres of land are destroyed annually due to wildfires alongside the earth’s natural resources. Wildfires most commonly occur between March and May in New York.

  • Hailstorms: While New York is not part of the national hail alley, it still sees a significant share of hail damage every year. Hailstones are like ice pellets and may feel hard when falling, but they are solid precipitation. They form when thunderstorm updraft raises water drops or raindrops above the freezing point in the atmosphere. Hail size of the hailstones is determined by how long a hailstone stays suspended above a cloud, gathering more water droplets. Large hail is formed when a water droplet is suspended for long, and smaller hailstones are formed by water droplets that do not stay as long. Researchers can tell there has been a hail storm due to a hail swath. A hail swath is a path hailstones create when they fall. Sometimes, hail events are triggered by thunderstorms.

What Types of Disasters are Insurable in New York?

All natural disasters in New York are insurable. Listed below are the major insurable disasters in New York.

  • Hail: Hail is the most frequently occurring disaster, which is normally covered by standard property insurance, with its separate deductible.

  • Sinkholes: A sinkhole is a hole that runs deep into the ground, caused by the collapse of the surface layer. Sinkholes are water generated because when it rains, and the rain has nowhere to go, it flows underground and begins to dissolve the rocks underground, which forms craters. The craters form slowly and gradually, so they may not give any noticeable signs until the sinkhole suddenly occurs. Sinkholes can lead to loss of lives and property and major road destruction. There is no coverage for sinkholes in standard residential and business property insurance policies. Sinkhole insurance is to be purchased as a stand-alone policy.

  • Floods: Flooding can lead to the destruction of crops, loss of livestock, loss of human lives, and also cause waterborne diseases due to contaminated rainwater. Flood insurance covers all flood-related damages for insured homes and business properties. With some exceptions, NY property insurance (both residential and commercial) covers flooding originating from inside the home, while FEMA-administered National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) covers the floods caused by extreme weather and from water sources outside the homeowner’s immediate control.

  • Hurricanes or Tropical Cyclones: Hurricanes can cause significant destruction, such as power outages due to the falling of power lines and the destruction of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. Besides the wind damage, which is usually covered by standard property policy, hurricanes almost always bring in flooding, which is usually NOT covered by the standard policy and requires flood-specific coverage. When hurricanes occur, the after effects typically last for several days..

  • Wildfires: Wildfires can disrupt communication, transportation, power services, gas lines, and water supply, and also affect soil properties. Wildfires also deteriorate the air quality, destroy infrastructure and sometimes end human lives. A standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for wildfires.

  • Tornadoes: A tornado is a violently rotating wind that can destroy anything in its path. Tornadoes can uproot trees and destroy houses, vehicles, and habitats. Damages caused by tornadoes are usually covered under a standard home insurance policy.

  • Earthquakes: Earthquakes are caused by moving the earth’s tectonic plates. They can cause damage to properties, hinder telephone services and electricity, and lead to burst gas pipes. It is best to purchase an earthquake insurance policy to protect your building and personal properties.

Minor disasters are usually covered under standard homeowners insurance policies, while the major ones like flooding and earthquake are purchased as stand-alone policies.

What Type of Disasters are Not Insurable in New York?

There are no natural disasters in New York that are not insurable. Every natural disaster in New York can be insured. Natural disasters like hailstorms, wildfires, winds, thunderstorms, and volcanic eruptions are insured under homeowners insurance. In contrast, earthquake, flood, and sinkhole insurance can only be purchased as a stand-alone policy.

What are the Types of Disaster Insurance in New York?

New York disaster insurance protects businesses and residents from financial losses resulting from natural disasters. Natural disasters are low-probability events that have expensive consequences. There are different types of disaster insurance in New York, and each of these insurance policies caters to a particular disaster; most cannot be used interchangeably.

The types of natural disaster/catastrophe insurance policies available in New York include:

Flood Insurance

Floods are the most prevalent natural disasters in New York and they are typically not covered under standard residential and business property insurance policies. Flood insurance provides coverage for flood damage. Flood insurance is usually issued to businesses, renters, and homeowners through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which abides by the FEMA rules, or through private flood insurers, which can offer competitive pricing but does not report to an overseeing federal agency. Such policies are purchased from the so-called Write Your Own (WYO) insurance companies.

According to FEMA, the average NFIP flood insurance premium annually is $700, but it can cost up to $1,200 in New York City due to the coverage amount and risk level. This is an extra cost on top of the regular property coverage.

It is important to purchase flood insurance before the flood season, which is typically between May and June in New York. It takes 30 days for the policy to become effective after purchase. To get further information about your flood risk, search for your property address on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center. Contact your property insurance agent to determine whether your community is among the communities participating in the NFIP, as flood insurance is available to such communities. You can also check the community status book report for New York to know your community’s status.

According to FEMA, 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from low-risk areas. Therefore, anyone can risk losing everything due to copious amounts of floods. Flood insurance covers the following:

  • Plumbing system

  • Electronic systems like air conditioners

  • Personal items like furniture, art, etc.

  • Detached structures like garages.

Earthquake Insurance

Earthquakes hardly occur in New York, but New York is still susceptible to them. Earthquake insurance premiums range from $800 to $5,000 annually. What your earthquake insurance policy covers is based on your policy. A standard earthquake insurance policy should offer the following:

  • Dwelling Coverage: This helps to rebuild or repair a damaged house or commercial property

  • Loss of Use Coverage: This covers an individual’s temporary living expenses if their insured house becomes uninhabitable

  • Personal Property Coverage: This coverage helps replace damaged personal items like televisions, fridges, etc.

To determine your community’s susceptibility to earthquakes and what other coverage your disaster insurance policy offers, you can speak to a licensed disaster insurance agent in New York.

Windstorm Insurance

Windstorm insurance in New York covers damages caused by high winds like tornadoes, tropical cyclones, hailstorms, and storms. Homeowners' insurance policy in New York provides coverage for windstorm damage. There are two special deductibles for windstorms in New York, which include:

  • Windstorm Deductible: This deductible can be applied to any form of windstorm claims like tornadoes, high winds, and hurricanes. It ranges from 1% - 5% of the coverage amount on the property.

  • Tropical Cyclone Deductible: This deductible can be applied when there is damage from a named storm, like “hurricane sandy”. It ranges from 1%- 5% of the coverage amount on the building.

Windstorm insurance averagely costs between $900 and $1,300 annually, and it covers the following:

  • Physical damage to property

  • Additional living expenses if your house becomes temporarily uninhabitable

  • Personal belongings inside the dwelling

  • Detached structures like tool sheds, garages, etc.

Sinkhole Insurance

Sinkhole insurance covers personal belongings and properties destroyed by sinkholes. Homeowners insurance policy does not provide coverage for sinkholes; it is purchased as a stand-alone policy in New York. Sinkhole insurance's annual premium ranges from $2,000 - $4,000 in New York. Sinkhole insurance covers damages caused by sinkholes to properties and personal belongings. This insurance policy also pays for stabilizing land and repairing the foundation. It is incredibly important because, according to the U.S Geological Survey, 25 percent of the United States, including New York, is prone to sinkholes. Speak to a licensed disaster insurance agent in New York to gather more information on sinkhole insurance.

Do you Need Disaster Insurance in New York?

You need disaster insurance if you live in a region prone to natural disasters in New York. Standard home insurance policies do not provide coverage for severe natural disasters, so purchasing disaster insurance based on the prevalent natural disaster in your area is essential. If unsure of the most prevalent natural disaster in your city/county, you can always speak to a licensed insurance agent in New York for more information. Natural disasters frequently result in damages that are too expensive to pay for out of pocket. For instance, one inch of flood water or copious amounts of water can result in over $20,000 worth of damages. Purchasing disaster insurance before disaster strikes can save you a lot of money.

Thunderstorms, storm surge, and flooding are common in New York, and this is due to the extensive geography of the New York coast. According to FEMA, the number of people living in New York City’s floodplains supersedes the total population of Florida. One inch of floodwater can cause $25,000 worth of damages to a commercial or residential building. Also, due to climate change, the sea levels are expected to rise even further due to the polar ice caps melting, resulting in worse flood situations, hence the need for insurance. Disaster insurance will protect your home and business in the event of a disaster like flooding and earthquakes.

Hurricane Sandy caused damages worth $19 billion, slowed down economic activities, and damaged many natural resources. Thousands of people were suddenly rendered homeless, with over 60 thousand residential units destroyed. It is important to purchase applicable disaster insurance well-before a disaster warning is issued. Most disaster insurance providers have a waiting period of 14-30 days, which the insured must wait before the coverage takes place.

Typically, no insurance company will increase your coverage or receive a new application after a storm warning has been issued for a particular area. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts and analyzes hazardous weather and issues warnings to the concerned area. Hence, if you live close to the ocean, you should keep an eye on the NHC list for current warnings. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also detects different types of precipitation, thunderstorm clouds, and wind directions. They forecast and issue warnings concerning the weather through their National Weather Service (NWS). The NOAA can predict and detect hail, flood events, tsunamis, thunderstorms, high winds, and many other natural disasters before they happen. The services and resources provided by the NOAA help people make informed choices about their environment, protect the oceans for future generations, and keep people informed about weather disasters. Always be on the lookout for current weather warnings from the NOAA.

Speak with a knowledgeable New York-licensed property insurance agent who can provide information on prevalent natural disasters in your region. Areas most-prone to certain natural disasters in New York include:


  • Marble Hill, Manhattan

  • Midland Beach, Staten Island

  • Stapleton, Staten Island

  • Arrochar, Staten Island

  • Midtown South, Manhattan

  • Chelsea, Manhattan

  • Rosedale, Queens

  • Coney Island, Brooklyn


  • Broome, Schoharie County

  • Madison, Madison County

  • Tioga, Staten Island


  • Adirondacks

  • Catskills

  • Hudson Highlands

  • Longisland Pine Barrens

  • Shawangunk Ridges


  • East Village, Manhattan

  • Long Island.

What Should I Do after a Natural Disaster in New York?

Being uninsured and a victim of a natural disaster will likely result in you paying out of pocket for expensive and extensive damage repairs. A natural disaster can incur severe financial loss and cause an individual to be deep in debt. The impact may be felt in the present and the future. If you are not financially buoyant at the time of the occurrence, you could be rendered homeless and have to take refuge in government-provided shelters. That is why it is imperative to be duly insured before disaster strikes. Speak to your insurance agent to determine whether you have sufficient coverage for natural disasters under your homeowners' insurance and repeat this conversation on an annual basis. The property values change, the risks change, so should your insurance coverage.

If your property is insured under disaster insurance, your insurance company will cover the repair costs within the limits of your coverage. Your insurance company might also cover your additional living expenses if you have to temporarily relocate due to your property being uninhabitable.

If you have been affected by a natural disaster that causes damage to your commercial or residential property in New York, these are the following steps to take:

  • Take photos and videos of damaged areas in your building, as well as unaffected areas.

  • Notify your insurance company through an agent and give them as much information as possible.

  • Expect an adjuster to come to verify your insurance claim on your building and determine a settlement amount after filing for a claim

  • Make emergency repairs to protect against further damage

  • Make sure to keep all receipts from the repair for full reimbursement

  • Do not throw away old invoices or receipts; this will help the adjuster assess the value of your personal properties.

  • Ensure you do not dispose of any damaged property until the adjuster assesses the damage

  • Contact FEMA if the natural disaster is flood-related or if you have been affected by a storm, as FEMA can provide housing assistance, low-interest loans, and other resources to get you through the tough times

  • If you have to relocate temporarily, ensure you remove all valuables from your building or you properly secure them

  • Make sure you understand what your policy covers

  • After your insurers accept your claim, ensure to hire a professional contractor to fix up your property.

Discuss your disaster insurance needs with a knowledgeable New York-licensed property insurance agent. Residential property is insured using the residential property agent, while business coverage is done through a commercial property agent.