State Farm not such a good neighbor?

February 11, 2008 7:24:00 AM PST
Thousands of homeowners in New York are scrambling to find a new insurance company after State Farm insurance began canceling policies that are within close proximity to the water. Long Island reporter Emily Smith has the story.

Most residents like Bayville for its seaside charm and proximity to the Long Island Sound. But buyer beware, the area's best quality, for some, has become a nightmare.

"No insurance company wants to touch Bayville...because it's near the water," resident Tom Plactere said.

Kevin Keenan had better luck with State Farm. He was insured by the company for 20 years, until recently. He received a notice saying his homeowner policy will be dropped because of a potential storm.

He says he never filed a claim with the agency, and adds that he always paid on time.

In a statement sent to Eyewitness News, State Farm says, "Our focus is on coastal properties that are in areas most susceptible to the perils of wind and hurricane damage. We worked for more than a year to arrive at decisions that are best for State Farm and its customers. This is a difficult decision for us, but a necessary one."

Some Long Islanders, including Keenan, say insurance companies abandoning homeowners would make more sense if all houses were on the water. But they're not. Many are up on hills. A State Farm agent on Long Island says it's not about elevation, but proximity to the water.

The agent says the new plan affects customers living within close proximity of the water, which impacts parts of Bayville.

"Theres just no way, if you move here, you can get homeowners insurance," she said.

Senator Carl Marcellino says he's been fighting for a bill that would make it illegal for insurance companies to basically drop or shun an entire community.

"In the good times, you pay premiums. In bad time times, they're supposed to be there to help," he said. "That's the business, and they should honor their commitment."

Unfortunately, he says it won't end with State Farm. He expects other companies to do the same. So if your passion for the water outweighs anything else, hang in there. But don't just expect an insurance company to be the "good neighbor" you thought you had.