Consider buying an earthquake policy

STILLWATER – As earthquakes become increasingly common in Oklahoma, it is worthwhile for residents to consider purchasing insurance to protect their property as the ground shakes and rolls underfoot.

“With the number of earthquakes continuing to climb in the state, Oklahomans may think about exploring coverage, if they haven’t already done so,” said Cindy Clampet, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension assistant state specialist for family resource management.

Since property damage from earthquakes is not usually covered under a typical homeowners or renter’s policy, earthquake coverage generally comes in the form of an endorsement or stand-alone policy.  Like other kinds of insurance, earthquake policies can cover a range of damages such as cracks in sheetrock or foundation repairs.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department estimates residents can anticipate paying $50-$300 annually for earthquake insurance policies. Premiums can vary based on a range of factors such as the size, location and age of the home; the type of construction; and the cost to rebuild. Deductibles for earthquake insurance can get pricey because they are a percentage of the insured property value and can run between 2 percent and 10 percent.  That means a policy on $100,000 home with a 10 percent deductible would bring a homeowner’s portion to $10,000. Some insurance companies require a waiting period before purchasing new earthquake policies. The waiting period can range from 72 hours to 60 days after the most recent earthquake reported in the area in order to account for any possible aftershocks.

Anyone interested in buying earthquake insurance should begin by calling an insurance professional. Before purchasing any policy, shop around. “Make sure you understand what is and is not covered. Be certain the policy will suit your needs in terms of providing the coverage you need and want,” Clampet said. “Just like any other insurance, read your policy so you’re familiar with the coverage.”

The Office of the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment reported the state experienced 907 earthquakes at a magnitude of 3+ in 2015 compared to 585 in 2014 and 109 in 2013.