Building problems

How Can Homeowners Protect Themselves From Earthquake Threat?

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Although states in the western and central U.S. are generally more vulnerable, earthquakes can happen in any state for a variety of reasons.

Whatever the cause or region of the country, many of the basics of earthquake insurance remain unchanged, including:

  • Homeowners, business owners and renters may be able to buy a separate policy for earthquake coverage or add an endorsement to their existing insurance, since earthquake damage isn’t covered by standard insurance policies.
  • Earthquake coverage generally focuses specifically on damage caused by the shaking and cracking associated with tremors. Secondary damage, such as that from fire and burst water pipes, may be covered by a standard homeowners or business policy.
  • Earthquake insurance might cover the cost of repairs to your home or business and detached structures, such as garages. Your personal property may also be covered if it’s damaged due to a tremor. Depending on your policy, you may also be reimbursed for additional living expenses if, for example, you have to stay in a hotel while damage to your residence is repaired.
  • Deductibles for earthquake insurance generally involve a percentage of the structure’s insured value instead of a dollar amount. The deductible could be as little as two percent of the replacement value or as much as 20 percent.
  • You can buy earthquake coverage from private insurance companies in most states. California residents also have the option of getting insurance from the California Earthquake Authority.
  • Deductibles, premiums and coverage vary by location, provider and policy.
  • A newer house with a wood frame may cost less to insure than an older brick home, a type of dwelling that generally could be more vulnerable to earthquake damage.

An Opportunity for Greater Awareness

If you don’t have earthquake insurance and think you might want it, call an agent in your area to learn about available coverage.

If you already have an earthquake policy or endorsement, you may want to contact your agent to consider if you want to increase your protection.