Homes in Earthquake Zones

Insurance considerations for homeowners in earthquake zones

Your standard homeowner's insurance policy probably may not cover damages to your home or property in the event of an earthquake. If you are a homeowner, or renter, in an area subject to strong earthquakes, paying extra for this coverage may be beneficial.

You should first try to determine how prone your location is to earthquake damage. While any area could experience the event, certain areas have a much greater risk. The United States Geological Survey provides a map with information that will help you assess your potential for earthquake events.

Residents in the states of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska face the highest risks. Other northwestern states are also included in active fault zones. Individuals in Florida, Wisconsin and North Dakota are among those with the least risk.

After you have considered your location, you need to take into account the type of building you live in and the ground composition. Residences can be built to be more durable. Solid bedrock is less prone to vibration. Sand may absorb some of the quaking but buildings can tip over with shifting.

Once you have decided to purchase a policy for earthquake coverage, there are several questions to ask the insurance provider:

  • Ask what structures are covered for earthquake damage under your policy. If you have a garage, make sure it is included.
  • Find out if the policy covers the contents of your home. You also want to know about deductibles and any exclusions to your coverage.
  • Finally, ask what living expenses are provided if your home, or rental unit, is destroyed by an earthquake.

Residents in the state of California have access to a state based earthquake insurance program. You can choose from several different providers that are approved by the California Earthquake Authority.

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