For Consumers

Earthquake insurance

What is earthquake insurance and how does it work?

Earthquake insurance is added to your existing homeowner or renter’s policy, or it's a separate earthquake policy you buy.

  • It provides coverage if an earthquake destroys your home.
  • It's a separate endorsement you can buy and add to your homeowner or renter policy.
  • You can also buy a stand-alone policy separate from your homeowner policy.
  • It's usually sold with deductibles equaling 10%-25% of the structure’s policy limit.
  • It only pays for damages that exceed the deductible.
  • There may be a separate deductible for contents, structure and unattached structures like garages, sheds, driveways, or retaining walls.
  • Generally, this coverage isn't available to buy for some time after an earthquake.

What it covers

  • Repairs to your home
  • Damage to your personal property
  • The cost to remove debris
  • Extra living expenses you might have while your home is repaired or rebuilt

What it may cover

  • Increased costs to meet current building codes and costs to stabilize the land under your home
  • Other structures not attached to your house

What it doesn't cover

  • Fire
  • Land
  • Vehicles
  • Pre-existing damage
  • External water damage
  • Damage due to landslides, settlements, mudflows, earth rising, earth sinking and contracting

Be aware that it might not cover floods, tidal waves or tsunamis, even when caused by an earthquake.

To see if you're covered or not for these types of damages listed above, talk to your agent or broker and be sure to read your policy.

What to expect from insurers

Some earthquake insurers may require an inspection of your property before they'll issue you a policy. They may even have different coverage requirements, such as:

  • Bolting your home to its foundation
  • Bracing your home's interior walls
  • Using strapping guards to secure fixtures, such as hot water heaters