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Does Home Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

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Protecting your home from earthquakes is very important when you live in an area where they are prominent. You might be wondering “does home insurance cover earthquakes?”

No, a standard homeowners policy does not cover earthquake damage. You need to obtain a separate policy specific to these damages. If you already have homeowners insurance and want to get earthquake coverage, you can speak to your agent about the options and how to get a policy in place.

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Key facts
  • A homeowners policy does not protect against earthquakes
  • A separate earthquake policy must be purchased
  • The policy will have a deductible to pay out of pocket before the insurance company pays the rest

What is covered by earthquake insurance?

After you get an earthquake insurance policy, you need to know what is covered. There are three main parts of the policy. 

  • Your dwelling will be covered up to a certain limit. This is typically going to be the same limit as your homeowners insurance. If you are unsure what this is, you can take a look at your homeowners policy to see where the limit currently stands. The deductibles for this part of the policy operate on a percentage basis. You will either pay 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, or 25%. This is the amount you must pay before you get reimbursed for the rest.
  • The other two parts of the policy will cover your personal belongings inside the home and additional living expenses if you must temporarily relocate while your home is being repaired. The coverage you choose for your belongings can range from $5,000 to $200,000, and the price will vary depending on what you choose. The additional living expenses range from $1,500 to $100,000. When it comes to this coverage, there is never a deductible. You should simply be compensated for additional living expenses if they are needed.
earthquake damage
Earthquakes can cause devastating damage to your home and property.

What is not covered by earthquake insurance

Even when you have an earthquake policy in place, there are certain instances that are not covered by default. 

  • The policy will not extend coverage to other structures, landscaping, pools, fences, or masonry. If you need coverage for these areas, you can ask your agent if there are any additional endorsements you can add to the policy. The main reason for purchasing earthquake insurance is to protect the dwelling you live in. 
  • Another factor to keep in mind is if you are renting, you do not need to have an earthquake insurance policy. The owner is responsible for securing this coverage. The same applies if you own a condo, as the building owner will need to get the earthquake policy.
  • If you have breakable items in your home, such as china or crystal, you will need to purchase breakables coverage as an add-on. This is something typically not covered by a standard earthquake insurance policy. 
  • When it comes to perils such as fire, damage to your land, and damage to your vehicle, the policy will also exclude these from coverage. Anything that your homeowners policy or auto policy already covers will not be double insured. Flooding is also excluded, and obtaining a separate flood policy is how to get protection.

What is retrofitting?

There is a process known as retrofitting that protects your home and can get you a discount on your earthquake insurance policy. When you retrofit your home, this is the action of making it more resistant to earthquakes and can be performed by a contractor. 

Many homes already have retrofitting if they are near a fault line, but you will have to double-check whether your home has this or not. You can find out by contacting the previous owner of the home or the builder that constructed it. 

Any existing retrofitting is not always going to be noticeable, so it is important to verify that there are some modifications in place by a trusted source. If you find out there is retrofitting, it is important to get proof of this so you can submit it to your insurance company for them to apply the discount.

  • Some examples of retrofitting include bolting the house to the foundation, bracing the chimney and water heater, installing automatic shut-off valves for gas lines, and using plywood to strengthen walls surrounding crawlspaces. 
  • Your earthquake insurance provider will let you know if any discounts are offered when you have retrofitting, and they will apply them to your premium. This is helpful because it makes your home more stable and also saves you money in the long run. If you are interested in having your home retrofitted, you can get an estimate for these services and see which will be most beneficial. 

Filing an earthquake insurance claim

If you experience an earthquake and need to file a claim, learning how to do this ahead of time will help you get the process going quickly. 

  • You will need to call the claims number and report all the details of what happened. Keep in mind when the earthquake occurred and what was damaged in the process. 
  • You should also make note of any repairs that must be made. After this, the insurance company will file the claim, and you should receive a claim number. This is the point of reference you can use to look up the status of your claim in the future.
  • You will get a claims adjuster assigned to your case, and you should make sure the individual you talk to gives you this contact information so you can talk to the adjuster directly. This will be helpful because you will have a direct point of contact. 
  • The adjuster will have to come out and inspect your home to verify what is damaged and what must be covered by the earthquake policy. 
  • If you end up finding any additional damage after the first inspection, you can request a second one. You must make sure all damage is accurately reported to get properly reimbursed by your insurance.

Earthquake insurance is a very important policy to have, especially when you live in an area that experiences them frequently. You are going to be relieved when you have this coverage because earthquakes can cause a lot of damage in a short time. Earthquake insurance is affordable and adjustable depending on your needs. To get a quote you can ask your insurance agent about the options available.

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Kristen Nadel has worked as an insurance agent for 4 years and has an extensive background in writing homeowners insurance content. She is also a published author residing in Oklahoma. Her creative spirit and tenacity for excellence allow her to stay inspired. Writing is more than just a task to her — it is a lifelong passion.
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