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What You Need to Know About Earthquake Insurance

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Every property owner needs the right home insurance coverage. But some may wonder, "Is earthquake insurance worth it?" This guide helps homeowners understand what earthquake insurance is, what it costs, and when it's worth purchasing.

Do you need earthquake insurance?

Most standard home insurance policies don't provide earthquake insurance as part of standard coverage. Other types of losses, such as fire damage, are covered. But damage from earthquakes isn't, unless the homeowner buys more protection.

Earthquake insurance works in a similar way to flood insurance. Standard coverage usually excludes floods caused by natural disasters, as opposed to burst pipes or broken appliances.

Homeowners in an earthquake-prone area likely need earthquake insurance. Without it, they would be left to rebuild and repair their home with no financial help. They would also have to pay to personally replace all possessions without insurance.

Is earthquake insurance worth it?

Even the best homeowners insurance policies exclude earthquake insurance from standard coverage. As a result, anyone whose home is in an area where an earthquake could occur will want separate coverage.

Is earthquake insurance worth it? It is to any property owner who couldn't afford to pay to replace their home and belongings out of pocket. It's also worth it for anyone who wouldn't want to do that.

Is earthquake insurance worth it for renters?

Renters insurance doesn't cover earthquakes. So those who rent a property may also wish to buy a standalone earthquake insurance policy. Without this coverage, a renter may have to pay out-of-pocket to replace or repair their possessions destroyed by the quake.

How does earthquake insurance work?

Homeowners can purchase an earthquake insurance policy. They can buy it from their home insurance company as an add-on. Or they can buy a standalone earthquake insurance policy. These may be sold by a separate carrier.

What earthquake insurance covers

Earthquake insurance generally provides:

  • Dwelling coverage. This pays to repair or rebuild a home that is damaged or destroyed by an earthquake.
  • Personal property coverage. This covers items that a policyholder owns. It includes furniture or electronics.
  • Loss of use. This refers to expenses that result if an earthquake causes a policyholder to live elsewhere temporarily.

Earthquake insurance provides coverage after a homeowner has met their deductible. Often, these earthquake deductibles are between 10% and 25% of the policy limit on the structure. Policies may also come with separate deductibles for dwelling coverage and personal property.

What earthquake insurance doesn't cover

Earthquake insurance does not cover damage from other causes, such as fire or flood.

Damage to land is not typically covered by earthquake insurance. If an earthquake opened up a sinkhole, this would not be covered. Many earthquake insurance policies also exclude coverage for landscaping. And there's often no earthquake coverage for separate buildings on the property or swimming pools.

To get full protection for things like exterior masonry veneer and crystal or china, policyholders may also need add-on coverage. This could include optional breakable protection.

How does California earthquake insurance work?

California has special rules for earthquake insurance.

Companies that offer home insurance are required to offer earthquake insurance to their clients in California. The insurers must make a written offer every other year. It must also specify earthquake coverage details. Policyholders have 30 days to accept the offer. Those who don't reply within that time frame will be deemed to have rejected it.

California homeowners can also buy earthquake insurance through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). CEA is the top provider of earthquake insurance in California. The insurance is sold through CEA members. Policyholders must buy their CEA insurance policy from the same insurance company providing their residential policy.

How much is earthquake insurance?

The cost of earthquake insurance depends on many factors.

What factors impact the cost of earthquake insurance?

Just as the average cost of homeowners insurance varies, the earthquake insurance cost can also change from one property to the next.

Earthquake insurance costs are higher for policyholders who buy more than the required minimum coverage. A smaller deductible also results in a higher earthquake insurance cost.

The location of a property will also have an impact on determining, "How much does earthquake insurance cost?" In a higher-risk area where earthquakes are more likely, policies will be priced higher.

There may be discounts available for California earthquake insurance sold through the CEA. If an older home has been properly retrofitted, the earthquake insurance cost could be discounted up to 20%.

How much earthquake insurance should I buy?

Homeowners should buy enough earthquake insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding their home and replacing their property.

Earthquake insurance deductibles

Earthquake insurance often has high deductibles. CEA offers the option to get a deductible equaling 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, and 25% of the home's value.

Some insurers have even higher deductibles. For example, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner for Washington State indicates many insurers sell policies with a minimum deductible of 10%.

Where can I buy earthquake insurance?

Most standard home insurance companies offer earthquake insurance as an add-on to their policy. Standalone earthquake insurance policies are also available.

To get California Earthquake insurance, homeowners should look for CEA member insurers. That's because the California Earthquake Authority provides most earthquake insurance in the state, selling policies through member insurers.

For homeowners looking for how to save money on homeowners insurance, it's best to shop around. Prices and coverage terms can vary. So homeowners should compare quotes from several insurers to find the best earthquake insurance.

FAQs

  • Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquakes as a standard option. Homeowners will need to add optional earthquake insurance to their policies to be protected.

    Homeowners can buy earthquake insurance as an add-on from the insurer that provides their home insurance coverage. Or they can buy a standalone policy from a company of their choosing.

  • If a property owner does not have earthquake insurance, they would not be protected from damage due to an earthquake. The homeowner would have to personally pay to rebuild or repair any damage to the home caused by an earthquake. The homeowner would also be left with no help replacing personal property destroyed by an earthquake.

  • Earthquake insurance deductibles are a percentage of the home's value. This could be as low as 5% or as high as 25%. A deductible must be paid before an insurer begins covering damages. This means a property owner has to cover the amount of the deductible out of pocket. The insurer pays for damages exceeding the deductible.

  • Earthquakes can cause substantial damage. In high-risk areas where earthquakes are likely, insurers charge a lot of money to protect against financial loss from an earthquake. Homeowners can keep premiums as low as possible by comparing their coverage options.

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