Californians Clamor for Earthquake Insurance

Posted November 2nd, 2009
by Staff (2 comments)


Some types of homeowners insurance just don’t seem to be very popular. Whether it’s because consumers aren’t necessarily educated about what exactly their homeowners insurance policy does and doesn’t cover or whether they’re just willing to take the risk that they’ll avoid certain types of disasters, insurance like flood insurance and earthquake insurance can be a hard sell.

Still, today, there seems to be a renewed interest in earthquake insurance, at least in earthquake-prone California. A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that the San Francisco Bay area has about a two thirds chance of having an earthquake with a magnitude 6.7 or even higher in the next three decades. If you expand the area to consider the entire state, that risk moves up to a near-guaranteed rate of 99 percent.

Yet, a surprisingly small number of California residents currently have homeowners insurance that covers earthquakes. Just over 12 percent of California homeowners have earthquake insurance, and the percentages for renters in California are even significantly lower than that.

Why is it that so few people want to protect their homes from what seems to be an inevitable circumstance? Many people, unfortunately, operate under the delusion that their homeowners insurance policy will pay for their home to be rebuilt after an earthquake. They fail to notice that their homeowners insurance policy specifically excludes incidents due to earthquakes. They just aren’t aware of the risks.

In other cases, homeowners may not be willing to pay the additional costs for earthquake insurance. Earthquake insurance is on top of your regular homeowners insurance. Rates for this type of insurance can be high, and the deductibles on some earthquake insurance policies can be quite high, as well. Even some homeowners who have been through earthquakes are resistant to shelling out premiums.

Premium costs for earthquake insurance can be based on a number of factors. The relative proximity to a fault line is one element the insurance company will look at. They’ll also take into account the type of home, how old it is, and what its underlying insured value is.

Once you’ve assessed your home’s risk for earthquakes, you can get a comparison of rates from different earthquake insurance providers. Some companies don’t provide earthquake insurance in high risk areas, although the system is currently set up such that all homeowners have access to a policy of some sort, regardless of where they live.

In 2009, the average cost of an earthquake insurance policy was around $700. Cost, of course, is only one factor in making the decision about whether to get earthquake insurance and what type of policy to get. Being able to recover financially after an earthquake is important, and it can be worth a little bit extra in your insurance bill to have that peace of mind.

Categories: Natural Disasters

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  • Posted November 6th, 2009 by freehomeowner at 3:09 pm - Reply

    good thing I don’t live in California. Other than the cool governor, don’t know why it’s the place to be? Especially after these earthquakes.

  • Posted October 1st, 2010 by Inbox485 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Earthquake insurance in CA is a joke. By the time there is enough damage to exceed the deductible, you aren’t going to be alone, and there is no way that any reasonably sized city can be covered. Also pretty much everything in your house of value is excluded. Historical earthquakes only caused so much damage because structures were not attached to foundations and slid off. Modern structures survive with little to no damage up to the point where foundations crumble (this didn’t happen in either the SF or NR earthquakes that are so often used to push earthquake insurance). So then you have that nice little bit of fine print that never gets mentioned where if the damages of an incident exceed available funds, the available funds are rationed out among the claims. So, aside from the fact that virtually all of your personal items are excluded from the claim and the first $10K (the deductible last I checked) is on you, you won’t likely see more than a fraction of your damages you think are covered. So to pay for all this great coverage it only costs about what you are already paying for regular homeowner’s insurance. With or without earthquake insurance you can say hi to your new FEMA trailer if there is an earthquake that bad (assuming you aren’t dead).

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