What is Earthquake Insurance and Do I Need It?

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Earthquake insurance covers your home and belongings from the serious threat of earthquakes. It’s not a required coverage, but it’s recommended to have earthquake insurance—particularly if you are in an area prone to earthquakes.
Earthquakes pose a major threat to our homes: just one large earthquake can be absolutely devastating. Your standard homeowners policy doesn’t cover earthquake damages, so you’ll need to look into separate earthquake insurance.
Navigating earthquake insurance may seem intimidating—which is why home and car insurance super app Jerry compiled this guide to everything you need to know about earthquake insurance.
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What is earthquake insurance?

Earthquake insurance is specialized insurance designed to cover your home and personal property if an earthquake occurs and causes damage. It also will provide coverage for additional living expenses if you cannot live in your home due to the aftermath of an earthquake.
Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies do not include earthquake insurance, so you’ll need to purchase it separately. You can buy a separate earthquake insurance policy or add it as an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy—if it’s offered by your provider.
Key Takeaway Since renters and homeowners insurance policies don’t cover earthquakes, you’ll need to buy an endorsement or separate policy to cover your home and property against earthquake damage.

What does earthquake insurance cover?

Earthquake insurance is generally made up of three coverages: dwelling coverage, personal property coverage, and loss of use coverage.
  • Dwelling coverage helps cover the costs to repair or rebuild your home in the event of an earthquake.
  • Personal property coverage helps pay for replacements of personal belongings that were damaged due to an earthquake, such as electronics or furniture.
  • Loss of use coverage pays for additional living expenses if you cannot stay in your home while the damage caused by an earthquake is being repaired.
Your earthquake insurance may also include, or offer as an optional add-on, building code upgrade coverage. This coverage means your insurance company will help pay additional expenses if you are required to rebuild your home as a result of the house not complying with building codes.

What isn’t covered by earthquake insurance?

Just like most other insurance policies, earthquake insurance has exclusions that won’t be covered. Earthquake insurance typically doesn’t cover:
  • Collectible items
  • Fences
  • Fires resulting from an earthquake
  • Flooding and external water damage
  • Landscaping
  • Masonry
  • Pools
  • Sinkholes
  • Vehicles
While earthquake insurance won’t cover the items and events listed above, your other insurance policies might. Car, flood, and homeowners insurance may cover these in place of earthquake insurance.

Do I need earthquake insurance?

You are not legally required to have earthquake insurance. Earthquakes can potentially happen anywhere in the country, but they are usually concentrated in 42 of the 50 states. Around 200,000 earthquakes happen every year, and some states are more prone to them than others. The west coast is particularly prone to experiencing earthquakes.
You can use the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to track tremor lines in and around your state. While you’re weighing the pros and cons of buying earthquake insurance, the USGS says you should consider the following factors: 
  • Annual rainfall
  • Construction type, layout, materials used, and quality of your home
  • Cost to insure your home
  • Earthquake frequency in your region
  • Kind of land your home is on, including soil type and slope of the land
  • Level of earthquake-preparedness your home was built with
  • Proximity to active fault lines
  • Time passed since the last earthquake in your region
  • Value of both the home itself and the contents
There are basically three questions you need to ask yourself when you’re considering earthquake insurance: how likely it is for an earthquake to happen, how likely an earthquake could damage your home, and if you would be able to afford all of the repairs on your own.

How to buy earthquake insurance

You’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons, and you’ve decided it's in your best interest to get earthquake insurance. But where do you start?
First, check with the insurance company you have renters or homeowners insurance with. They may offer earthquake insurance as an endorsement to your current policy, or as a separate policy. California law requires home insurance companies to provide earthquake insurance.
California homeowners can buy earthquake insurance through the California Earthquake Authority. Residents in California, Oregon, and Washington have the option of purchasing earthquake insurance through Arrowhead or GeoVera. If you don’t live in these states, you’ll need to shop around—your state’s Department of Insurance can be a great tool!

How much does earthquake insurance cost?

Earthquake insurance can be expensive, and unfortunately, the rates usually increase the more you need it. Annual premiums for earthquake insurance range from $800 to a whopping $5,000. The deductibles are typically 10-20% of the coverage limit.
The cost of earthquake insurance has a large range due to a variety of factors. In addition to the coverage limits and deductible in the policy, your earthquake insurance premiums will be determined by the age of your home, the building materials used, the cost to rebuild, number of stories, proximity to faults, seismic activity, soil type, and ZIP code.

How to save on earthquake insurance

If you’re looking to save on earthquake insurance, you have limited options. If you buy earthquake insurance from your existing home or renters insurance company, they may be able to offer you a discount. You can also raise your deductible, but you should only consider this if you can afford to pay that much in the event of an earthquake.
There are home projects you can complete to save on insurance costs and better protect your home against earthquake damages. You can brace your water heater and chimney, bolt your home to its foundation, install automatic gas cut-off valves, and strengthen walls with plywood.

How to save on car and home insurance

Insurance costs can add up quickly, so it’s nice to save money on your policies whenever you can. Luckily, Jerry is a licensed insurance broker and comparison app here to help!
Jerry makes it easier than ever to find the insurance you need at a price that’s easy on your wallet. Just download the app, answer a few questions, and sit back while Jerry compares affordable quotes from trusted insurance companies. You can get quotes for home and car insurance at the same time to bundle and save even more!
The savings with Jerry are the real deal—the average Jerry user saves $887 per year on car insurance alone!
“This was so easy! Signing up with Jerry saved me $499 on my semi-annual insurance. As if it was nothing!” —Kache P.
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