Earthquakes and Insurance
The West Coast was on high alert earlier this month when multiple strong earthquakes rocked California. It was an important reminder that seismic shifts can happen anytime, so preparedness and awareness is key.
Millions felt the shaking from the magnitude 7.1 quake, the largest in the Golden State in two decades.
The Ridgecrest quake, which had multiple significant aftershocks, are important warnings to homeowners and business owners who face routine risks from earthquakes and should take precautionary measures. Even though the earthquake threat exists in many states, only about one in 10 households has coverage for quake-caused property damage, according to I.I.I.’s 2015 Pulse Survey.
Earthquakes are not covered under standard homeowners or business insurance policies. This type of coverage can be acquired in the form of a supplemental policy that provides protection from the cracking and shaking caused by such calamities that can destroy buildings and personal possessions. Other kinds of related damage, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas or water pipes, are generally covered by the standard homeowners and renters insurance policies.
The percentage of homeowners with earthquake insurance across the U.S. has declined, despite rising estimated of the risk of an earthquake. Yet, as fewer people opt for earthquake insurance, the government is upping its assessment of the risk of a sizable shake. An updated hazard map issued by the U.S. Geological Survey shows an increased earthquake risk for almost half the country.
Parts of Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma and Tennessee, among others, moved into the top two hazard zones, while the San Francisco Bay area shows a 63 percent chance of one or more major earthquakes before 2036. Yet people are buying less earthquake coverage.
The earthquake insurance is purchased separately and often comes with a high deductible, in addition to premiums.
The California Earthquake Authority took note of the decreasing number of earthquake-insured clients and has stated that residents people ought to give earthquake insurance a second look. The state authority expanded its policy offerings to allow a greater range of deductibles, to provide higher levels of personal property coverage and to give greater premium discounts for those who make their home less prone to quake damage. Be quake aware, and get prepared!