39 States at Significant Risk of Earthquake Damage
Clearsurance.com recently published a report detailing the risk of earthquakes throughout much of the U.S. and the role earthquake insurance can play in minimizing that risk.
Many people in the U.S. assume the risk of earthquakes is specific to homeowners in California. But, surprisingly, this report revealed that homeowners in 39 states are at significant risk of sustaining earthquake damage.
States at Risk of Earthquakes
Most people understand that states along the San Andreas Fault near the west coast of the United States face the risk of earthquakes causing severe damage. In fact, residents who have lived in the area for decades have likely experienced the aftermath of earthquakes.
States like California have regulations in place for home and commercial construction to minimize the damage earthquakes can do. Even still, a major earthquake can cause widespread destruction.
The San Andreas Fault runs through California, putting nearly all its residents at risk of earthquake damage and after-effects.
Oklahoma and the Midwestern States
The New Madrid fault line runs along some of the midwestern states, and although this fault line hasn’t contributed to devastating earthquakes, history provides insight into the risk. In the early 1800s, three earthquakes rocked the region with magnitudes of over 8.0 on the Richter scale.
Oklahoma’s risk has increased following oil drilling hydraulic fracturing operations and associated wastewater wells in the region.
New York City is perhaps the most at risk considering the number of old buildings that aren’t built to withstand major earthquakes. The population and building density also increase the city’s risk of catastrophic damage if a significant earthquake occurs.
According to Clearsurance.com, the largest earthquake recorded in the U.S. was in Alaska, with a magnitude of 9.2.
Since Alaska has a low population density, the risk is often overlooked, but considering the mountainous region and proximity to the ocean, devastating earthquake aftereffects like mudslides and tsunamis could drastically alter the landscape.
Home Insurance and Earthquake Coverage
Unfortunately, standard home insurance will not cover damage from earthquakes. Both floods and earthquakes are well-known exclusions for homeowners insurance policies.
Fortunately, many insurers offer a stand-alone earthquake policy that homeowners can purchase to ensure they have the coverage they need to recover from the damaging effects of earthquakes.
Because of California’s high risk of earthquake damage, the state has created an earthquake insurance program available to all homeowners. People living in other states besides California must seek earthquake insurance from private insurance companies.
Melanie Musson, a nationally recognized home insurance expert with Clearsurance.com, urges homeowners throughout the U.S. to assess their risk. She says, “Many homeowners don’t even realize their risk, but speaking with an insurance agent can help them determine if earthquake insurance suits their needs.”
Auto Insurance for Earthquakes
Coverage for damage that earthquakes cause to automobiles is more straightforward. Vehicle owners don’t need a separate earthquake policy. Instead, they just need comprehensive auto insurance. Comprehensive coverage is the necessary insurance for natural disasters, earthquakes, vandalism, and theft.
Full coverage auto insurance includes comprehensive and collision coverage, and vehicle owners can opt for this type of coverage from their car insurance provider to ensure protection from earthquake damage.
Associated Risks Following Earthquakes
While earthquakes themselves can cause structural and personal property damage, there are other risks to consider, including the following:
Damage from floods following earthquakes is typically not covered by standard home insurance, but flood insurance will protect if a homeowner has purchased a flood insurance policy.
Damage from fires following an earthquake is typically covered by standard home insurance. These fires can start from fallen power lines, gas leaks, and other damage. In densely populated areas, these fires can spread from structure to structure. But even those in rural areas are at risk of earthqake0induced fires turning into wildfires.
Homeowners interested in protecting their homes from the financial burden an earthquake could bring should reach out to their home insurance providers and get a quote for earthquake insurance.
Read Clearsurance.com’s full report here: What is earthquake insurance, and do I need it?