Earthquakes are unpredictable and you can’t really plan for when they’ll happen, but you can be prepared if they happen — and buying earthquake insurance is a big part of the preparedness. Earthquake insurance coverage can help protect your finances if something happens to your home, condo or rental unit during an earthquake. But why do you need earthquake coverage? Well, because damage from earthquakes is NOT typically covered under your regular homeowners, condo or renters policies.
Additionally, while many home insurance policies will offer and earthquake endorsement, it’s typically expensive and has far less coverage than a stand-alone earthquake policy.
In fact, you may want to consider buying an earthquake policy even if if you don’t live in California or Hawaii. Scary as it sounds, states considered to be earthquake-free have recently seen an increase in earthquake activity. According to the National Earthquake Information Center, the US has approximately 12,000 to 14,000 earthquakes annually. Sure, a majority of these events are minor quakes, but it underscores why earthquake insurance coverage is an increasingly important protection no matter where you live.
Regardless where you live, when earthquakes happen they can create serious damage to your home’s foundation, or do structural damage and break windows. Without this coverage you may have to pay out of pocket for expensive repairs or to replace your personal property.
Provides protection to the primary structure when there is a covered loss. Coverage is typically the same as dwelling coverage (Coverage A) on your home insurance policy.
This coverage provides protection for structures that are not attached to the primary dwelling. Like detached garages or gazebos. Like Dwelling coverage, this is going to be similar or the same as on you home policy.
When you have an earthquake loss, this coverage will provide protection for your personal belongings, including audio, video, clothing and other items.
If you are displaced from your home after an earthquake, and while repairs are underway, this coverage can pay for temporary housing.
Affordable earthquake insurance is the goal. With most earthquake policies, you can tailor your coverage to fit your budget. Earthquake rates are generally driven by the dwelling replacement cost as well as factors like your home’s age, proximity to an earthquake fault, foundation and construction type and roof materials.
Another key factor in the cost of an earthquake insurance policy is the deductible. Depending on the type of policy, deductibles are either driven by the combined single limit or the specific coverages. So it’s important to understand your policy deductible before you choose as it will have a big impact on your contribution after an covered loss. Regardless of the policy type, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Deductibles will typically range from 5% – 25%.
When buying an earthquake insurance policy you will have some options. The most common why to purchase an earthquake policy it to contact an insurance agent. An insurance agent can present you the option to purchase you earthquake coverage from a private company, or through as state sponsored authority.
In California, a CEA earthquake insurance policy is easy to buy. You can add the coverage today, no need to wait until your homeowner policy comes up for renewal. However, your home insurance will have to be offered through a participating residential insurance company. The good news is that many of the larger carriers participate.
If you’re located near a fault or are simply concerned about your earthquake risk, then you should purchase a policy at the same time you purchase you home, condo or renters insurance.
The reality is that earthquakes are unlike other natural disasters, there are no warning signs or advanced notice. If you live in California, with it’s 16,000 known faults, an earthquake is a much more likely event. So, it’s not an unreasonable to consider purchasing a policy as soon as possible.
Earthquake insurance is not required and the protection is completely options. However, if you don’t purchase earthquake insurance, you will be responsible for 100 percent of the cost to repair your home and replace your belongings after an earthquake.
In many ways your earthquake protection functions like your home insurance. The amount of coverage you need will be similar. For instance, if your home insurance offers dwelling coverage of $500,000, then your earthquake insurance should also be set to $500,000 for dwelling.
For any optional coverage, you will have the ability to adjust the amount of protection that fits your needs.
An important election will be your deductible. The deductible is offered as a percentage. This can affect how much you will be required to pay when there is a covered loss. So, make sure you understand how the percentage is calculated and to which coverages it applies. This is most important when you are buying a Combined Single Limit policy, as a smaller deductible percent can still be a significant dollar amount.
A seismic retrofit involves strengthening your home’s foundation to make it more resistant to shaking. CEA offers earthquake home insurance premium discounts (up to 25%) for older houses that have been retrofitted to better withstand earthquakes. Mobilehomes that have already been certified with an earthquake-resistant bracing system may be eligible for a 21% discount.
Grants to help pay for a house retrofit are available under the Earthquake Brace & Bolt (EBB) program, and the CEA Brace + Bolt (CEA BB) program.
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