Earthquakes and home insurance

Written By
Eric Foster
Posted
September 28, 2021

Are earthquakes covered on my home insurance?

Not so fun fact: most insurance companies do not provide coverage for earthquakes on a standard home insurance policy.

Follow up fact: most of the customers we speak with are shocked by the fact that earthquakes are not covered on their home insurance policy. Clearly there are exceptions where earthquakes are more top of mind (I’m look at you California).

So, if you haven’t figured it out already, this is me telling you to check your insurance policy and find out if you are covered. Or better yet, connect your insurance with us, and we will check for you!

 

Earthquakes

If you are from California, earthquakes might already be part of your daily life. If you are not, FEMA puts out a nice little map to indicate how prone your area is to earthquakes: Earthquake Hazard Maps | FEMA.gov

What if your home shows up on the FEMA map, but you aren’t sure if it means you now need earthquake insurance now? Here are a couple variables you should consider:

- Your home’s proximity to fault lines

- Activity level of the fault line: does it often created earthquakes?

- Earthquake history in your region

- The structure of your home: was it built to sustain earthquakes?

The bad news is the more at risk you are to suffer damage form an earthquake, the higher your insurance premium will be.

So how do you know if you should get earthquake coverage?

Personally speaking, I am proponent of having earthquake insurance. I live in New Jersey and am at relatively low risk, so the cost isn’t too high (<$100).

There are probably a thousand things wrong with my math, but here is how I personally came to the decision:

1. First I looked at this map and determined there would be 4-10 damaging earthquakes every 10,000 years. For simplicity, I rounded up to 10 damaging earthquakes every 10,000 years

2. I made my 3rd grade math teach proud (shout-out Ms. Mascio) and crossed out the zero’s. So I have one damaging earthquake every 1,000 years.

3. Let’s assume I live in the same house for 50years.

4. Back to 3rd grade math: I divided 50 by 1,000 and found out there is about a 5% chance of my house being damaged by an earthquake.

5. Assuming the same rate (over simplifying to for inflation and other complicated maths) over 50 years, I’d pay $5,000 for earthquake insurance.

6. For $5,000 over 50 years, its not worth the 5% risk of losing my home to an earthquake

Note: I am well aware that my math is flawed. If an adventurous actuary wants to develop a real model for all of our clients to use for free, email me at: “my first name + @woopinsuranceagency.com” and I will buy you a T-shirt with my face on it.

What’s my advice to you?

Is the savings on insurance worth the risk to you? If the answer is yes, don’t buy it.

For me personally, I’d rather never spend $100/year and literally never think about an earthquake again.

About the Author
Eric Foster
CEO & Founder, Woop Insurance Agency LLC
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