In order to advise a home buyer, and ultimately place the proper insurance protection, an insurance broker needs to have an in depth understanding of many factors that are specific to the East End. Working with a local insurance broker who has expertise in insuring homes in the Hamptons with access to the best products available in our market can be a tremendous advantage to a Hamptons homeowner.
Direct Access to Insurance Carriers
Many top insurance companies will decline to insure a home in the Hamptons due to the coastal risk. These include some of the major national direct writers that people often use to insure their primary homes in places like NYC, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc. We often receive calls from clients who are buying a second home in the Hamptons and discover their current carrier simply cannot provide a homeowner policy. The most advantageous aspect of working with the right local insurance broker is the relationships they have with the handful of “A” rated carriers insuring both primary and secondary homes in our area.
Because the Hamptons are surrounded by water, many of the homes in our area are either directly in or very close to hazardous flood zones. It is, therefore, critical for an insurance advisor to have an extensive knowledge of the area’s various flood zones. Factors such as the base flood elevation of a home, local building codes, and the installation of proper “flood venting” can all come into play. The insurance broker also needs to be aware of COBRA zones and understand how to obtain coverage when the property does not qualify for a policy through FEMA. A local insurance broker will visit the home to assess some of these things as part of the process of advising the homeowner.
A thorough understanding of hurricane coverage, and how it applies to homes on the East End is also essential. Each carrier handles hurricane coverage differently. Certain carriers require the homeowner to pay extremely high deductibles after a hurricane loss, which many homeowners are unaware of.
Added Local Value
Visiting a home immediately after a loss can be very helpful. This winter, our agency received several dozen claims due to interior pipes freezing and then bursting, resulting in a tremendous amount of water damage in the house. For secondary homeowners who may spend the winter in places like NYC or Florida, this can be even more traumatic as they can’t get to the Hamptons to check on their home. A local agency representatives can personally visit these homes after it is discovered that pipes had frozen and burst. A local agent can arrange for emergency clean-up crews to come to the house on the same day to begin the process of drying the interior and removing wet items. It’s critical to act fast to prevent further damage and the possibility of mold formation. Local insurance brokers often meet the insurance carrier adjustors at the home to help put the claim process in motion immediately. A NYC, CT, NJ or Westchester insurance broker is not going to be there for any of this.
Local Construction Costs
A local insurance broker can be an invaluable advocate for a Hamptons homeowner in other ways too. Skyrocketing construction costs play a major role in the process of insuring a home in this area. It is, therefore, critical for a local insurance broker to have their finger on the pulse of the current home building market in the Hamptons. Relationships with local builders who can provide immediate advice and accurate estimates of home replacement costs are key.
Education and Assistance to Local Professionals
Providing complimentary flood zone determinations and alerting the real estate salesperson of any potential insurance issue for a particular property, are just some of the services that a knowledgeable insurance broker can provide. Another service might be providing “ball park” quotes for homeowner and flood insurance so that there are no surprises after a contract of sale is signed.
An insurance broker with local expertise should act as a resource to the real estate community through education and sound advice. Real estate salespeople who are well versed in the insurance market in the Hamptons are able to provide a higher level of service to their customers and set themselves apart.
Ultimately, those who benefit the most from local insurance expertise are homeowners themselves. Our knowledge and service are considered by many to be invaluable in protecting one of the most precious assets they own – a home in the Hamptons.
Chris McDonald is a Principal at Amaden Gay Agencies in East Hampton where he has served since 1994.