Q: I have lived in my New York rental apartment for over six years, having signed three previous two-year leases. Each lease has requested proof of renter’s insurance. With the current lease, the building management is requesting that I name them as an additional insured party. It seems as though they’re trying to pass on their insurance costs to me. Is that legal?
A: The answer depends on whether your apartment is rent stabilized, but the bottom line — and the good news — is that it doesn’t really matter, because adding the building management firm as an insured party should not increase your premium.
“We don’t charge anything to include an additional insured,” said Tamara Lanza, a State Farm agent at the Lanza Insurance Agency in Harrison, N.Y., who insures many tenants in New York City. “You would think we would because we’re taking on the exposure of another party, but oddly we do not.”
Gene Lanza, the agency’s manager, said that he asked several independent brokers who represent multiple carriers, and found that none of them charge extra to add the landlord and management agent.
As to the question of legality: If your apartment is rent-stabilized, the landlord may not modify the lease to require you to name him as an insured, said Catharine Grad, a partner at the tenants rights firm Himmelstein McConnell Gribben & Joseph.
“There are some very limited exceptions, but generally speaking, the landlord can’t start adding on or changing the terms of the lease for a renewal,” Ms. Grad said.
For market-rate apartments, there is no such restriction, and it is fairly common for landlords to require that they be named as insured parties on a renter’s policy, Ms. Grad said.
Lucas A. Ferrara, a landlord-tenant lawyer and adjunct professor at New York Law School, said that he saw “nothing unseemly or improper about a landlord requesting that its managing agent be named as an additional insured on any policy,” and that adding the landlord as an insured party could save a tenant considerable expense and headaches.
“For example, if a roommate or visitor were to slip and fall within an apartment, because of some tenant-caused condition, naming the landlord and managing agent as additional insureds would help protect them against those claims should litigation subsequently arise,” Mr. Ferrara wrote in an email.
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