Does homeowners insurance cover earthquakes?

Homeowners insurance typically doesn't include earthquake coverage. However, if you live in an area at risk for tremors, your home insurer may offer separate earthquake policies or an earthquake endorsement you can add to your policy for an additional premium. If your insurer doesn't offer any earthquake coverage options, they may be able to refer you to one that does.

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What does earthquake home insurance cover?

Similar to how standard homeowners insurance provides coverage for severe weather damage, an earthquake insurance policy or endorsement may cover the following:

  • Structural damage to the residence
  • Personal property damaged by the event
  • Replacement of your home if it's destroyed
  • Aftershock damages
  • Temporary living expenses if you're displaced

In your earthquake claim, you may be able to include damage from aftershocks that happen within 72 hours of the event.

Pro tip:

Earthquake insurance only covers direct damage from the earthquake — not additional perils often associated with earthquakes such as floods, sinkholes, and fires.

Where can I get earthquake insurance for my home?

Ask your current homeowners insurance company if they offer any earthquake coverage options. Standard home insurers don't typically include coverage for seismic damage in base homeowners insurance policies. But for an additional premium, they may offer coverage through an earthquake endorsement or earth movement insurance rider. You may also have the option to purchase a standalone earthquake policy.

You might be able to find a licensed earthquake insurance provider through your state's department of insurance. An option for Californians is the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), one of the world's largest earthquake insurance providers.

How does earthquake insurance work?

Earthquake insurance operates similarly to how your homeowners policy works — with a deductible, coverage limits, and conditions. Your policy may be split into different coverage types like your home policy: dwelling coverage, personal property coverage, and loss of use coverage. If you have other structures on your property, verify with your earthquake insurer if they will be covered.

Earthquake insurance deductibles vary by insurer. For example, yours might be a set dollar amount, a percentage of your home's replacement cost, or a percentage of your homeowners dwelling and other structures coverage limits (usually around 5% to 25%). If you make a claim, your deductible will simply be subtracted from what your insurance company pays out for the claim.

Your earthquake policy's dwelling coverage limit should be equal to the amount it would take to rebuild your home to its previous standard (not its current market value). Your earthquake dwelling coverage limit should be equal to your homeowners policy limit for dwelling coverage (Coverage A).

Factors that could affect the cost of your earthquake home insurance rates may include your home's:

  • ZIP code
  • Building materials used
  • Age
  • Foundation type

Is earthquake insurance worth it?

If you live along the West Coast or close to a fault line, earthquake coverage would be beneficial. Though coverage isn't required by law, if an earthquake destroyed your home and you didn't have coverage, the financial result could be devastating. If earthquakes aren't a serious risk in your region, however, the added cost of an earthquake insurance endorsement or separate earthquake policy with a potentially high deductible may not be worth it.

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