Earthquake Insurance: Is Your Insurance on Shaky Ground?

by Becca Marsh on 2019-04-08 12:59pm

Have you ever felt the earth move under your feet? While many of us think of California being the most likely place you might experience an earthquake, they do occur to some extent in almost all 50 states. In fact, there are more than three million earthquakes worldwide each year. What may be even more surprising is that the damages caused by the ground shaking and shimmying your house are generally NOT covered under your homeowners policy.

Just like flood insurance, earthquake coverage is something you opt to have added to your policy. However, while you are required to purchase flood insurance if you live in a high-risk area for floods, there is no requirement, and sometimes not even a discussion about earthquake coverage even though millions of people are at risk for damage from an earthquake in the US.

 

While the cost of coverage reflects the risk, with California premium costs significantly higher than comparable coverage in New York, there are often discounts available for homes with earthquake safety taken into consideration. For example, there are entities that offer a discount if homes are braced and bolted to the foundation. Even homeowners who know about the coverage often choose not to purchase it because an earthquake seems to happen so rarely that the cost seems like a gamble for a product that will never be used. But, if you consider that an earthquake with a magnitude of over 6.0 could cause damage that would cost more than a third of your home’s value, and wouldn’t be covered under your normal insurance…..the few hundred dollars a year may not seem so steep after all.

 

 

While some damages would be covered under other policies, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t. For example, if a gas leak from a broken pipe caused a fire and damaged your home, that could possibly be covered under your homeowners policy. If the roof caved in on the garage and damaged your car, your car itself may be covered under your auto policy. However, the actual structural damage from the shaking….the roof crumbling, windows breaking, foundation cracking, etc....those damages would only be covered if you had earthquake insurance.

 

 

According to the US Geological Survey there are eight states considered to not have a significant earthquake risk. Those are Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Unless you live in one of those eight states, it may behoove you to contact your insurance agent to discuss adding earthquake coverage to your homeowners insurance policy. I know I will.