With the recent earthquake in California, we through we would share some insight into earthquakes and insurance.  Earthquake, at least for insurance purposes, is defined as a sudden and rapid shaking of the earth caused by the shifting of rock below the earth’s surface.

Earthquakes are not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.  Coverage must usually be purchased via an endorsement or on a separate policy.  Also, according to the U.S. Geological Survey the U.S. experiences approximately 20,000 earthquakes a year.

As development increases in seismically active areas so does the risk for loss when an earthquake hits.   In July 2014 the U.S. Geological Survey updated its U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps. The new maps reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.

The new maps show that 42 states are at risk, with 16 states that have experienced earthquakes with a magnitude 6 or greater and which are considered at high risk.

Earthquake hazard is especially high on the West Coast, the intermountain west and in several active regions of the central and eastern U.S.


As there are no national earthquake programs, coverage is usually purchased through a private insurance company.  (However, some states, like California, have put together state programs.)

  1. Private Insurance Company:  Just like with flood insurance, there are several insurance companies that have put together programs for earthquake insurance you can purchase separately or in conjunction with flood and landslide coverage.
  2. Your Current Homeowner’s Policy.  There are some states where you are actually able to purchase earthquake coverage through your homeowners insurance policy.

Items to Note:

    • Your deductible is almost always a percentage of the coverage limit (typically 5%).
    • Pay special attention to your policy if you purchase earthquake coverage through your homeowners insurance company.   While you will have coverage for earthquakes, your policy will most likely exclude everything else related to land movement, including landslides/mudslides.

If you would like to find out more about earthquake insurance, please contact our office.