NYT Real Estate: When an Insurer Shuns Solar Panels

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 18, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Has anyone else experienced this problem with an insurance carrier? Please let me know and tell me how you resolved the problem.

Laura.Arnold@IndianaDG.net or (317) 635-1701

From The New York Times

Ask Real Estate is a weekly column that answers questions from across the New York region. Submit yours to realestateqa@nytimes.com.

When an Insurer Shuns Solar Panels

Q. Four years ago I had solar panels installed on the roof of a building I own. I recently decided to look for a new insurance carrier to replace my existing coverage, hoping to get a lower rate. But when I requested a quote from a different carrier, I was rejected. The company said it would not insure the building because it has solar panels. The installation was done with all the necessary permits and inspections. I received federal, state and city subsidies. How can a company reject my application based on the solar panels? If I had known it could have been an issue, I might have reconsidered the installation.

Manhattan Valley, Manhattan

A. Solar installations on residential rooftops are hardly novel. There are about 1,373 residential arrays citywide, according to Sustainable CUNY, which promotes solar energy. A well-installed solar array, like the one you describe, should set even the most risk-averse insurer at ease. That said, who knows what makes an insurer tick? (After all, your current carrier does not seem to mind the panels on your roof.)

“To tell you the truth, it just sounds like they got one weird company,” said Bret Heilig, the founder of Fiveboro Solar, a solar installation company in the city. Mr. Heilig pointed out that his insurance company did not flinch when he installed a solar array on the roof of his own home.

Rooftop solar panels are “not an issue with very many insurance companies,” said Stuart Cohen, the founder of the City Building Owners Insurance Program, an insurance broker that specializes in small buildings. “There are some that won’t do it, but there are just as many that don’t care about it.”

Get back on that insurance-hunting horse and try to find an insurer who will embrace your green ways. Enlist an insurance broker who is familiar with the marketplace — perhaps one that specializes in small residential buildings. A broker should be able to offer you several quotes from competing insurance companies. This will not only ensure that you get adequate coverage for your property, but it also might help you fetch a lower price.

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