In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that permits insurers that provide homeowners and renters insurance for residential real property to offer discounts. Discounts will be offered to consumers who complete approved courses and/or install home improvements that mitigate damage to insured property caused by natural disaster and/or any other insurable event.

Under New York State Insurance Law §2346(5), the Department of Financial Services, (“DFS”), may permit an insurer providing homeowner’s insurance and/or property/casualty insurance for residential real property to offer actuarially appropriate discounts for:

  1. Completion of a homeowner natural disaster preparedness, home safety, and loss prevention course (“disaster preparedness course”) by the insured occupant of the covered residential real property; and/or
  2. The installation of equipment, devices, or other capital improvements to real property that can help eliminate or mitigate natural disaster damage, improve home safety, or prevent other losses.

DFS is encouraging property/casualty insurance companies to submit disaster preparedness courses for approval by DFS so homeowners and renters who enroll in such courses can seek DFS approved policy discounts. Such approved courses will instruct policyholders how they can make their residential property more resilient to natural disasters, reduce the potential loss of life or property damage that could result from a natural disaster, reduce the risk of fire, theft, burglary, personal injury, or property damage, and raise awareness of general natural disaster preparedness.

New York homeowners and renters shouldn’t get too excited about the potential discounts. Here’s the problem: Insurer participation in the program is not mandatory and to date, no insurance company has applied with DFS to be part of the program. My advice to homeowners and renters: periodically contact your insurance company to inquire if the company plans on offering discounts and which courses will qualify for such discounts.