October 15, 2013
OLYMPIA, Wash. - As homeowners put plans in place to prepare for an earthquake as part of the Great Washington Shake Out (http://www.shakeout.org/), they should also take time to consider how insurance factors into overall preparedness.
“Earthquake insurance is an important consideration for all homeowners,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said. “But when buying or renewing a homeowner’s policy, be sure you know what you’re getting with quake coverage.”
Earthquakes are not covered by your homeowner policy. You must either add this coverage to your homeowner policy or buy earthquake insurance.
Today, most deductibles for earthquake policies range from 10 percent to 25 percent of the structure’s limit. For example, if your earthquake policy or endorsement covers your house up to $250,000, you might pay $25,000- $62,500 before your coverage kicks in.
Key things to consider before buying earthquake insurance:
- You must meet the deductible – which can be very high – before your coverage starts.
- You may need to buy a stand-alone policy separate from your homeowner policy.
- 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 for a period of time after an earthquake.
What to expect from insurers
Some earthquake insurers might require an inspection of your property or have other considerations before they’ll offer you coverage, such as:
- The location of your home
- Your home must be bolted to its foundation
- The location and bracing of your home's interior walls
- You must have strapping guards to secure fixtures, such as hot-water heaters
What damage it may cover
- Rising, sinking and contracting of earth
What damage it may not cover
- Tidal waves or tsunamis - even when caused by an earthquake
“If you don’t think you could afford to rebuild you house if it’s completely destroyed by an earthquake, you should seriously consider earthquake insurance,” said Kreidler. “But do your research and ask the insurer plenty of questions about this type of coverage.”