Does my insurance policy cover earthquake damage?
Earthquakes are not covered under standard homeowners, renters, or business policies. You must purchase extra coverage for earthquakes. Coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes, is provided by standard home and business insurance policies. Cars are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.
Do I need earthquake coverage?
Some areas are known to be more earthquake prone than others because they lie on major fault lines such as the San Andreas Fault in California, and the Madrid Fault in Missouri, or the Wasatch Fault in Utah. Other areas prone to earthquakes include the Pacific Northwest and the southern Appalachians. However, earthquakes also may happen along lesser known or smaller faults – in fact, about 5,000 earthquakes occur in the United States each year. Depending on where you live, your mortgage company may require you to have earthquake coverage.
How do I get earthquake coverage?
Earthquake coverage is generally available as a supplemental coverage to your standard homeowners, renters or business policy. It is sold through private insurers, so contact your company or agent for more information. In California, it is also available through the California Earthquake Authority.
Earthquake coverage usually has a percentage deductible. For example, you might have to cover the first 2 to 20 percent of your structure's replacement cost and your insurance would cover the rest of the damage expenses up to the policy limits. Premiums vary based on your building's construction and proximity to a known earthquake zone.
How can I prevent damage during an earthquake?
You can help protect yourself and your belongings by taking precautions ahead of time. Secure water heaters and bookshelves to the wall. Use museum wax, other adhesives, or straps to secure collectibles and small appliances. Click here for more tips.
A major part of damage prevention takes place with building construction. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has developed recommended building codes to create buildings which are more likely to withstand earthquakes. Some buildings may be retrofitted to make them safer.