What Climate Risks do Coastal Properties Face?

Living along the coast is a dream for many would-be homeowners. For many people, the opportunity to enjoy gorgeous ocean views, the bracing sea breeze, and spectacular sunsets is hard to resist. But as an insurance broker, it is your responsibility to inform your clients that purchasing coastal properties by the sea presents several unique challenges.

Environmental and weather conditions increase the risk of wear-and-tear as well as more costly damage to your clients’ properties. This is why the first step for any would-be homeowner relocating close to the sea is to obtain New York Coastal Home Insurance.

If you have clients who are planning on relocating from an inland location to a seaside location on the East Coast, here are some of the more common climate risks you should prepare them for:

Rising sea level

One of the most common risks faced by homeowners on the coast is the rising sea level. And with the increase of the global sea level by about eight inches since 1901, this is a significant risk that your clients should be aware of.

Keep in mind that there is more to worry about than just the direct effect of rising sea levels. The increase in population and infrastructure development along the coast could increase the vulnerability of the area to the damage that sea level can cause. Among the problems associated with the rise in sea levels are rapid erosion and sinking landmasses. This, in itself, could increase the damage caused by flooding.

The rise of the sea level also causes the salinity of groundwater to increase correspondingly. When this happens, the saltwater in the area is pushed further upstream. As the salinity of the groundwater increases, it becomes undrinkable. In some cases, it may be necessary to treat the water and desalinate it to make it safe for plants and animals.

Finally, the rising sea level also increases the potential damage caused by storm surges. We’re going to detail the risks posed by these environmental conditions in the next section.

Storm surge

Dealing with storm surges comes with the territory when people choose to live by the coast. Although the East Coast is less prone to damage caused by storm surges than the West Coast, homeowners will still have to account for these factors if they plan on moving to the area.

What problems do storm surges cause? For one thing, the affected area will be much more prone to flooding. This is always a major obstacle for anyone looking to make a significant property investment. The damage caused by even minor flooding can require costly repairs. A more serious incident could put the property at risk for extensive damage, if not total destruction.

Storm surges could also disrupt transportation in the area, which could affect property values. In the worst-case scenario, the inhabitants’ safety can be put at risk, which is what happened in New York City, New Jersey, and Long Island during the storm surge caused by the 2012 Superstorm Sandy.


Another factor your clients will have to consider is increased precipitation. As climate changes worldwide, there is an increasing likelihood of heavier rainfall and more frequent rainfall in coastal areas. These factors could increase the volume and frequency of runoffs and floods.

Runoff itself can be especially damaging to a coastal community. Increased runoff is associated with a decline in the quality of coastal waters and its inhabitants’ health. If the problem remains unaddressed, it could cause widespread “dead zones,” as seen in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay.

Although dead zones won’t affect humans directly, they can adversely affect marine life in the area. This could cause the property values to decrease, which could be disastrous from a real estate investment standpoint.


Owners of coastal properties have many unique obstacles and challenges to manage and consider. Many of these are non-issues with inland properties, which could cause many would-be homeowners to reconsider their decision to move to the coast.

But investing in coastal property isn’t something that should be discarded outright. Many properties on the coast represent outstanding value and offer significant potential for appreciation over time. Even so, it is vital to communicate the risks if you have clients interested in investing in property on the coast.

About Snyder Specialty

Snyder Specialty, LLC is a New York-based underwriting facility that provides a range of property and liability solutions for personal and commercial lines. Specializing in coastal properties and hard-to-place risks, Snyder Specialty expands your current capabilities with proven solutions for complex risks. Find out more about the company’s range of services by calling (718) 362-8039.