Bay Ridge resident Robert Newmark says his neighborhood is nothing like New Orleans — except that he can’t get homeowners’ insurance, just like the people in that hurricane-tossed city.
Angry about being cancelled by Allstate, which is concerned about possible storm damage in Bay Ridge, the retired schoolteacher stormed a Community Board 10 meeting last month to sound the alarm that major insurance providers are still nixing home insurance policies.
Newmark, who lives on Perry Terrace, says his quiet street is about as far from the Big Easy as you can get — and is certainly not at risk of a storm like Hurricane Katrina, which caused more than $100 billion in damages and left major insurance companies struggling.
“We are way above the water — why should we be lumped with places like the Rockaways and New Orleans?” he asked.
Newmark — who never filed a claim after the 2007 tornado ripped shingles from his roof — told The Brooklyn Paper that Allstate decided not to renew his $900 annual policy last year because of his proximity to the Narrows.
A spokeswoman from Allstate declined to comment on the specifics of Newmark’s case.
“Every policy is different, and the best advice we can give to any policy holder is for him to speak directly to his agent,” said Jaclyn Darrohn.
Stephen Leatherman, director of the International Hurricane Research Center, said that the city hasn’t suffered a direct hit since the 1890s, and that there is a “low probability” of such a storm striking Bay Ridge.
But insurance experts say that wind is the problem, not flooding.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover floods — but it often covers wind damage — so non-renewals issued to Bay Ridge residents who live within about 1,000 feet of the Narrows are likely due to the risk of hurricane winds, according to Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.
“There is a whole generation that has no real memory of a hurricane hitting this area, so it’s only natural that some people are surprised that this is a concern of the insurance industry,” said Barry.
But whether insurers cite wind or water, Newmark claims that they’re full of hot air.
“Wind is only going to knock a couple of shingles off the roof in Bay Ridge,” he said. “They don’t want to pay out and they’ll find any excuse not to.”