Earthquake News

Insurance Awareness Day: Earthquake Insurance.


Standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover earthquake damage. See what earthquake insurance costs in California, Seattle, Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Earthquakes happen daily in various places throughout the world.

Some of those earthquakes are unfelt by us and detectable only by seismogram recordings, while others are not just felt but cause severe damage and even death. The tricky part about earthquakes is, you never know where and when they'll occur or how severe they will be. This is where earthquake insurance comes into play. 

If you're questioning whether you should buy earthquake insurance, we certainly can't fault you (pun intended), but there are some important facts to consider before you make your decision. Here, we'll cover everything you need to know to make an informed decision on earthquake insurance.


What does earthquake insurance cover?

Standard homeowners insurance policies generally don't cover damage from earthquakes and floods. That's why people buy separate earthquake insurance – or flood insurance if you live in an area prone to those disasters. Here are some things covered by earthquake insurance once you've paid your earthquake deductible:

  • Earthquake damage to the home or other structures on the property
  • Earthquake damage done to personal property
  • Additional living expenses if earthquake damages make your home temporarily uninhabitable

Remember that since most standard home insurance policies do not cover earthquake-related damages, if an earthquake is the cause of your damage, you will be left uncovered without earthquake insurance.

Earthquake policies can differ from company to company and state to state. Some may even define the word "earthquake" differently.

For instance, a landslide or sinkhole – or a volcanic eruption – they do similar damage and can involve your house tumbling off its foundation – but they certainly aren't earthquakes. That said, some policies may cover all of those types of earth movements, while some policies may only cover an earthquake.

Be sure to ask your agent questions, like:

  • Are all types of earth movements (earthquakes, sinkholes or landslides) covered? Are man-caused quakes covered? (i.e., if a nearby explosion causes the earth to shake, and your house is damaged, are you covered?)
  • Will the policy cover the cost to stabilize land beneath the home? After all, maybe the ground underneath your home needs repairing as well.
  • Does your coverage include replacing the structure, contents, landscaping, and outdoor items, such as swimming pools, hot tubs or fences?
  • Are alternate living costs covered if your home is not inhabitable?
  • Does the earthquake policy pay the costs of meeting updated building codes?
  • Does the policy cover repair to brick, stone or rock veneer? Some don't.

What is not covered by earthquake insurance?

Earthquake damage can have a domino effect.

The actual earth movement may cause damage like foundation cracking, or it may cause damage that leads to other damage like explosions, fires, trees falling or even flooding from a resulting tsunami.

If a tsunami occurs after an earthquake that floods your area and causes external water damage, earthquake insurance will not cover those damages. Instead, you'd need a flood insurance policy for coverage.

If an earthquake causes damage that is already covered under a separate policy, the other policy will kick in for coverage. In other words, earthquake insurance will not cover things you have already covered under another insurance policy.

For example, if an earthquake ruptured a gas line and caused a fire, your homeowners policy would cover the fire damage. Similarly, if a tree falls on your vehicle due to an earthquake, your auto insurance policy would cover the damage.

Expert tip: As usual, before you buy any insurance policy, homeowners or otherwise, check the policy first and read through it carefully. Every policy is different, and what's included with one company may not be with another. For example, some earthquake policies exclude things like fences, pools and landscaping, while others include those in coverage.

For more information about Washington Insurance policy click here: Washington State, Insurance Policy


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