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Does your Insurance Cover Earthquakes?


As many people were reminded recently, Alaska is still vulnerable to big earthquakes. We all know about Good Friday earthquake in 1964 that took many lives and caused immeasurable damage across the state. And when geologists began researching earthquakes up here they discovered that there was an average of 300 years between Big Ones. Surely we won’t be rocked by another big one during the next couple of centuries, right? Well, that 7.1 earthquake on January 24, 2016 sure changed some minds. Big earthquakes are a real possibility up here and we need to be prepared.

Did you know that most homeowner insurance policies specifically exclude earthquakes and the damage that results from them?

Earthquake insurance covers:

  • Needed repairs as a result of shaking and cracking.
  • Personal property that may be damaged during an event.
  • Increased costs to stabilize the land beneath your home.
  • The cost to remove debris.
  • Living expenses you may have while the home is being repaired.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure that you know the limits and sub-limits on any policies you have. You may have a policy that will cover $50,000 of personal property but only $5,000 of that could cover computers.
  • Insuring the property for the value of its appraisal or loan value will probably not be enough to repair or replace it if it’s deemed a total loss.
  • Earthquake policies tend to have higher deductibles than homeowner’s policies. Expect deductibles to be 10-20% of the coverage limit.
  • Most insurers won’t issue an earthquake policy for 30-60 after a recent earthquake.
  • Make a household inventory for each room and include photos or video whenever possible. Make sure to take special note of jewelry, firearms, antiques, electronics, and other valuables. Keep a copy online, in a safe, and in an offsite location.
  • If you’re renting your property make sure that your tenants have a renter’s policy of their own and have them create an inventory as well.
  • Make sure that you take regular photos of the outside of the property as well, including garages, sheds, and fences.

If you need to add earthquake coverage contact your insurance agent today. If they cannot add it as an endorsement to your existing policy then they can refer you to a company that will provide you with a stand-alone policy.

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