Does home insurance cover earthquake damage?

Mon Jul 08 2024

A home with cracks in its walks surrounded by rubble

Your homeowner's insurance policy most likely doesn’t include coverage for earthquakes. However, you may be able to buy a supplementary earthquake insurance policy or endorsement from your current provider.

You can also shop for earthquake insurance through independent providers that specialize in catastrophe coverage. Doing so could be your best option if your current provider’s earthquake policies don’t meet your needs.

What does earthquake insurance cover?

Earthquake insurance helps cover the costs you may face as a result of an earthquake. Coverage varies by insurance company and state, but most policies and endorsements cover damage to the structure of your home and personal property. Most also help with additional living expenses if an earthquake makes your home temporarily uninhabitable.

How does earthquake insurance work?

Earthquake insurance works largely the same way that traditional homeowners insurance works. If you experience financial loss after an earthquake, you submit a claim for reimbursement to your provider. The provider then evaluates the damage, reviews the terms of your policy, and decides whether there is coverage to pay your claim or not.

Like home insurance, earthquake coverage also has a deductible, and the deductibles tend to be high for standalone policies. Between 5% and 20% of your coverage limit is common. So if you need to file a claim for $100,000 in damages, you may have to pay $5,000 to $20,000 out-of-pocket, depending on the terms of your agreement.

Do I need earthquake insurance?

Unlike homeowners insurance, which is almost always required for a mortgage, earthquake insurance typically isn’t mandatory. You’re usually free to purchase it or not based on your own personal evaluation of whether the coverage is in your best interests. However, that may not be true if you live in an area prone to earthquakes, so double-check with your HOA and mortgage company to verify that neither requires it.

Earthquake coverage can still be a smart investment even if it’s not required. Understanding the risk of earthquakes in your area is key to deciding if you need this coverage. Western states like California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska tend to face the highest risk of earthquakes. But there are also parts of Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia that have significant earthquake risk. 

The U.S. Geological Survey publishes a map showing the relative risk of earthquakes across the United States. You can review it to see how at-risk your home is. 

While the amount of risk you face is an important factor, there are other issues to consider, including:

  • The potential cost of damage to your home and personal property in the wake of an earthquake.

  • The type of home you have.

  • Premium and deductible costs.

Where can I get earthquake insurance?

You may be able to get earthquake insurance from the same provider who sells your homeowners policy. California requires these companies to offer earthquake insurance; your state may have a similar rule if it experiences a lot of earthquakes.

That being said, just because you choose a company for standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t necessarily make it the best fit for your earthquake insurance policy. It’s always worth getting quotes from a few different options to ensure you find the best coverage for your goals.

Make sure your household is ready for whatever tomorrow brings

Does homeowners insurance cover earthquakes? Not usually. That's why you may consider purchasing a standalone earthquake insurance policy. Doing so is a smart way to protect your home and possessions from a costly natural disaster. But this is still just the first step toward knowing your family is ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way. 

You’ll still want to put together an earthquake readiness plan as part of your preparations. We created this guide covering how to prepare for an earthquake to help you do exactly that.

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