Top risks of living in New York:

Home-ownership is a great responsibility and part of the American Dream.  As individuals our home is normally considered our largest investment, and it’s in our best interest to protect our largest investment.  There are different risks to homeowners depending on what region or country of the world they reside.

Wherever you live, the world is a hazardous place, we have just started looking at regions and thought where better to start then InsuranceShark home-state New York.  When you live or work in New York, there are different risks associated with living upstate, downstate, in NYC, or out on Long Island.

Some of the risks to your home when in New York include:


  • Depending on where you live in NY, your neighbor can be 10 feet or 10 miles away.  Keep in mind each posses different risks, 10 feet can be attached housing or semi attached housing – and your neighbors fire can quickly become your fire.  10 miles apart can be a forest fire rapidly approaching your house.  Upstate NY the proximity to a local fire department or response time can increase as you are further away from the community.
  • Fire, Homeowners, renters insurance are all products that can protect you from this risk.

Hurricane damage

  • Damage during hurricanes can be due to wind damage, water damage, and the likes.
  • Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene both hit NYS pretty hard in recent years.
  • The property damage and personal injury that occurs during a hurricane can be catastrophic.  We use sources like Weather Underground to stay informed and aware of the risks to our area.
  • On Long Island and NYC, the 100 year storm could occur – similar to the 1938 New England hurricane.
    • According to Wikipedia, “due to its shorelines, Long Island was hit hard. The estimated storm tide was 15 feet in this region. A mean low water storm tide of 8 feet was recorded at Port Jefferson.  About 50 people perished in the storm’s wake.  All the shore lines were very vulnerable to the high winds and flooding waves, and anyone who was along or near the shores was directly in harm’s way.”

Winter storm damage

  • Ice damming and other winter related snow damage is an issue.   An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
  • This is important to primary and vacation/summer homes – especially if unattended in the winter.
  • The NY region can have varying snow deposits, upstate can have the Great “Lake effect” with >24 inches as well as in NYC and Long Island.  Its difficult to predict, hopefully you live in a town or city that is good at forecasting, has the correct and appropriate resources, quick cleanup, and buys a weather insurance – just in case the prediction is wrong.
  • We will discuss weather insurance in a different section.

Terrorism –

  • The risk of terrorism is now an inherent risk, both foreign and domestic, regardless of where you live.  In the event of a terrorist attack, the lives of friends, family and loved ones and the danger associated are of utmost importance.  We suggest you understand your risk, not be overwhelmed by it, and know how you are protected in the event of a financial loss.
  • According to the statistical data the perceived risk to NYC is higher than upstate NY, however, that is in isolation focusing on the probabilities.  However, the risk is increased across the globe.
    • According to the Global Terrorism index,  Terrorist activity increased by 80 per cent in 2014 to its highest recorded level. The largest ever year-on-year increase in deaths from terrorism was recorded in 2014, rising from 18,111 in 2013 to 32,685 in 2014. The number of people who have died from terrorist activity has increased nine-fold since the year 2000.
  • Living or working in NYC, the ability for public transportation or mass transit to get everyone off the island in the event of an emergency is a risk that NYC needs to address.  You need to understand the risk and evacuation procedures.

Top risks of living in New York


  • As we discussed in our Homeowners discussion, Flood is normally a excluded cause of loss on the homeowners policy, so if you live in NY close to a body of water or with property at or below sea level, we would recommend taking to risk management steps to lower your risk.
  • 1st find risk transfer…buy flood insurance.
  • 2nd take the appropriate steps to protect your home from water damage.
    • In regards to step 2, this can be costly include raising your home, increasing the size/level of the sand dunes, but as you can see from the picture this is not a scenario that can be avoided if you live in a flood zone.  It is important to know that if the sea level rises these steps may not unfortunately be enough depending on where you live.
  • Knowing your risk is important, if you live in NYC- there is the NYC flood map, and if you live upstate you should know the proximity to rivers or running water.  Most people up in the Great Lakes region are familiar with the winter effect of the Great Lakes, but other flood risks should be identified.  On Long Island, the 100 year storm could occur – similar to the 1938 New England hurricane.
  • According to Capital New York, the 100 year storm scenario for mass transit might seem remote, until you consider the NYC subway has not yet had to weather one; the subway system was opened in 1904, and many of its most vulnerable sections were built in the years immediately following.  Imagine a scenario in which a 100-year-storm flooded all of the parts of the system that are most susceptible—the tunnels that carry trains under the East River to and from Manhattan, and the major connection points in Lower Manhattan. Then Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island would essentially be cut off from the mainland for the millions of commuters who pass through those links every day. And not for a short time.Top risks of living in New York


  • Although remote risk of earthquake, see our discussion about knowing your Earthquake risk.  The earth’s plates can shift anywhere and buying EQ insurance is the way to go.
  • There is earthquake risk regardless of where you live so please see the highlighted coverage.


  • NY is not alone in this risk, having a security system, lighting, and proper locks are key ways to risk mitigate for your home.  An your insurance will cover you for this cause of loss.
  • This applies to both homeowners as well as renters.
  • Not something to lose sleep over, just be aware.


  • Drought brings with it increased fire risk as well as increased prices of local food prices.
  • NY is not unique with this risk and depending on where you live and your profession the impact of drought can be very high (i.e. farmers) or low for city dwellers working in offices.
  • The risk is quantifiable and unpredictable.
  • That’s why farmers buy crop insurance to protect their earnings in the event of a drought.

Nature resource damage/Environmental pollution

  • Damage to drinking water, air pollution, noise pollution, electricity grid damage, or any other natural resources can prevent health issues, disruptions in lifestyle, and other unanticipated consequences.
  • These are risks that may pose personal risks to the value of your home or your health.  The drinking water crisis in Flint Michigan is a great example, not that it’s on the minds of everyone involved but we can’t image the loss in value of those homes.


  • With a high population, NYS has the higher probability of an auto accident.  However, insurance is required to operate a vehicle so we believe this risk should be transferred.
  • The economic risks of rapid inflation can cause loss for individuals and business in New York.
  • Certain parts of NY are more litigious than others, juries can also give larger awards in these jurisdictions.  It’s important to know what the legal jurisdiction is like in your area of residence or business.


According to Richard Wilson a professor of physics at Harvard University, “Even in our most trivial activities we incur risk.”  Living in NY is no different.

The risks of life can be evaluated, quantified and analyzed but not always eliminated, we at InsuranceShark want to help you understand and live with these risks carefree – knowing your protected.   If there is a risk or something here you would like more information about, please Contact Us.

About the author

Arnold Smith

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