For Consumers

Thurston County ranks highest in Washington with earthquake insurance

Survey results will aid state effort to strengthen disaster resiliency

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February 7, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Thurston County has the largest percentage of homeowners with earthquake insurance in Washington state, and Columbia County the lowest, according to the results of a report released today by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. 

Just over 18 percent of insured homeowners in Thurston County have earthquake coverage, followed by Clark County at 16.4 percent and Kitsap County at 16 percent. In King County, the state’s most populous, 15.7 percent of residential properties have earthquake coverage. Sparsely populated Columbia County has a coverage rate of .02 percent. 

Overall, 11.3 percent of homeowners in Washington have some type of earthquake coverage. That is a higher rate of residential coverage than in California, the state with the highest risk. Washington ranks second in earthquake risk.  

Kreidler’s office surveyed 240 companies that sell residential and commercial earthquake insurance in the state in October 2017.  

The survey did not ask for premium costs or demographics of the insured. Instead, it focused on property value and location of insured properties. Earthquake coverage can vary significantly depending on the type of policy a home or business owner selects. 

Other findings: 

  • Insured homeowners in Western Washington have a higher percentage of coverage, 13.8 percent, than those in Eastern Washington, 1.7 percent. 
  • The counties of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and Clark account for 76.2 percent of all residential policies with earthquake coverage in the state. 
  • Deductibles for residential earthquake coverage match the industry standard of 10 percent to 15 percent. 
  • Insurers reported the average insured residential property was covered for $512,000. 
  • Just over 43 percent of commercial properties in Washington have earthquake coverage.
  • The average commercial property was insured for about $3.1 million. 
  • The counties of King, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap and Clark have 60.9 percent of all commercial earthquake policies in the state. 

“While the survey confirms our assumptions about earthquake coverage in Washington, it also shows a need to bolster overall efforts to lower the risk of loss from other disasters, such as floods and wildfires,” Kreidler said. “Earthquake insurance is an important part of reducing risk. But there are other perils to consider. The public and private sectors can work together on this.”

Kreidler is sponsoring legislation to bring together public and private organizations to recommend actions to mitigate risk and losses from all types of natural disasters. If approved, the working group would report its recommendations to the Legislature in December 2018. Kreidler’s office would lead the work.