When The Earth Moves, Will Your Homeowners' Insurance Cover You?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Yesterday, just before 2:00pm, I was startled by what sounded like my washing machine going totally haywire.  Oh, and I wasn't even doing a load of laundry at the time! 

The house was shaking like crazy, and the charger for my camera battery danced to the edge of my dresser and jumped down to the floor.  What was happening here?

After about 30 seconds, all was calm, and there didn't seem to be any damage.  But what just happened? I called my neighbor who had her TV set turned on.  And I gotta say, earthquake just had not occurred to me.

As the dust settled, I started to read through all of the messages from colleagues on our company list serve.  And one of them caught my attention.  We had a small quake last year that was barely felt in DC.  In his message, my co-worker said that soon afterwords, he got earthquake insurance added to his homeowner policy, and that his wife laughed her head off, saying that it was a total waste of money.

But was it?

To get more information on earthquake insurance, I called my State Farm Insurance office.  They are getting a ton of calls about quake damage to some of the homes they insure, and without a special endorsement, similar to what you get for flood insurance, earthquake damage is not covered by the normal policy. 

Right now, of course, there is a moratorium on new applications.  But after the earth settles down, they will reopen sales of this coverage.

How much does it cost?  She estimated that for my house, which is covered for something around $700,000, it would cost an additional $350 to $500 per year. 

This time I was lucky.  There does not appear to be any damage at all.  But this quake was a bit unsettling, and I'm starting to wonder if, once the moratorium is over, will it be worth it to increase my current premium by about 40 percent. 

What a crap shoot!

If you are planning a move to or from the Washington, DC area, I can help.  Call, email or text me at:
Licensed in DC, Virginia and Maryland





Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Chris Ann Cleland 08/24/2011 05:47 AM
  2. Susan Morrison 08/24/2011 10:12 AM
  3. Cheryl Ritchie 08/24/2011 11:38 AM
  4. Yvette Chisholm 08/24/2011 04:42 PM
  5. Ritu Desai 08/25/2011 01:07 AM
  6. Jim McCormack 08/25/2011 03:34 AM
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Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Living in a Hurricane area, I have flood on every house. Inexpensive when it is not required. Hope i never need it but its there. Earthquake insurance I would have to check on.

Aug 25, 2011 02:59 AM #43
Renée Donohue
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - www.urLVhome.com

After the Hector Mine earthquake in 1999 (which was 7.1 and we felt around a 5,) I decided it was prudent to purchase the rider.  I have had it ever since.  It is pricey but we live in an area with many faults and I decided that I don't want to wait around for FEMA or the government to make decisions about my property in the event we have an earthquake that actually produces damage.

Any time I get a quote on homeowners and they say "why do you have that?" I automatically know to not to switch to them.

Being fresh from Nebraska, I thought that quake was a tornado, LOL.  I had no idea what it was.  These things can happen at any time and anywhere near a fault.


Aug 25, 2011 03:17 AM #44
Jim McCormack
Nashville Short Sale Specialist - Jim McCormack - Edge Advantage Realty, LLC - 615-784-EDGE (3343) - Murfreesboro, TN
Nashville Short Sale REALTOR - Stop Foreclosure

This post contains important information.  I live in Murfreesboro (a suburb near Nashville TN) and this is the first time I ever thought about getting earthquake insurance.  I will ask my insurance agent about it to find out the availiability and cost of earthquake insurance in the Nashville TN area and see if it makes financial sense.

Aug 25, 2011 03:34 AM #45
David Evans
HUD NLB Cumming GA

By a lotto ticket as your chances are as good of pay out! That's why God made FEMA!

Aug 25, 2011 03:38 AM #46
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I don't have it....for all the reasons others in California have said. I wonder if you get a better deal where you are because it's such a rare event that it's just a revenue stream for insurance companies. By the time I pay the deductable of 10% of the home's value....if I actually have more damage than that, it's probably a totaled home and I'll have much bigger problems.

Aug 25, 2011 03:49 AM #47
Regan Forrest
Churchill Brown & Associates - Edmond, OK
Realtor, SRES, ABR, ePro

Here's another thing to consider. I live in Edmond, OK. Last year we experienced a VERY small quake. We learned from a past client that this "event" potentially negated their existing warranty on the piers that had been installed several years back. Wow! Now that's an obscure consideration. Not sure if foundation repair is common in your neck of the woods, but something to get clarity on before listing or putting one under contract for a buyer.

Aug 25, 2011 04:07 AM #48
Linda Fidgeon
Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Page Realty - Wrentham, MA
Make your next move your best move!

Wow! one more thing to worry about. Here in New England, earthquakes are pretty much unheard of. So, I never gave this a thought until the other day.  I assume the price would vary in different parts of the country.

Aug 25, 2011 04:09 AM #49
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

We are one of the few areas in the world that has 4 tectonic plates on the west coast - uh, yeh, I have earthquake insurance!  I fully expect my house to come tumbling down when the Big One hits (hopefully not with me in it)!

Aug 25, 2011 04:11 AM #50
Tim Bradley
Contour Investment Properties - Jackson Hole, WY
Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY

Earthquake insurance is a regular add-on to coverage here. We have a couple of small quakes a year...


Aug 25, 2011 05:02 AM #51
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Earthquake insurance is not cheap, the deductible is up to 15% and the risk is very low that any damage greater than your deductible will ensue, so self insurance is a better solution. Should a catastrophe arise, you can rebuild through FEMA loans.

Aug 25, 2011 07:42 AM #52
Risa Liebster
Ramsey-Shilling Associates - Los Angeles, CA
Toluca Lake Real Estate

Patricia, Glad it wasn't a horrible experience for you. Quake insurance is so expensive but home owners here in California must seriously consider the consequences of not be adequately insured.

Aug 25, 2011 10:53 AM #53
Beverly Femia
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Hampstead, NC
Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are

With "Irene" bearing down on us, I think my chocie of "flood insurance" was the right one and will forego worrying about that which is less likely to occur again in my life!

Aug 25, 2011 11:50 AM #54
Ben Blonder
Broker/Owner, Keller Williams - Fort Collins, CO
Buyers, Sellers, Investors!

Good to know! Its definitely a crap shoot, but who knows, maybe you'll get lucky.

Aug 25, 2011 01:06 PM #55
Gerard Gilbers
Higher Authority Markeing - Asheboro, NC
Your Marketing Master

I knew floods were not covered but would not have thought to look and see if earthquakes were! This is the first one I have felt in a long time - about 20 years!

Aug 25, 2011 04:16 PM #56
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Pat, Earthquakes can wreak a lot of havic in areas prone to them so for piece of mind$350-500 isn't bad.

Aug 25, 2011 04:43 PM #57
Monique Ting
INET Realty Honolulu, HI - Honolulu, HI
Your agent under the sun

Now you guys in the East will have to pay special attention to small details such as cracks in tiles and brick walls.

My house still has the marks of the 6.3 earthquake we experienced in Hawaii 5 years ago & the previous owner didn't bother fix them up...

As for the insurance, it's a matter of personal choice. Here house a worth less than the land they are built on, so many people with older homes do not have the earthquake coverage on their homeowner's insurance!

Aug 25, 2011 08:26 PM #58
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Good post. Every home owner without earthquake coverage should now rethink their risks.

 Life is good in Maryland!

Aug 25, 2011 11:31 PM #59
Dave Bittner
Paradise Realty - Heeney, CO
Summit County, Colorado

What?  You think your insurance should cover things that can destroy your home?   Like floods and earthquakes?   What are you thinking?

Aug 26, 2011 03:39 AM #60
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

In most places EQ coverage is a percentage of the policy, not a flat fee.   I have been out of insurance for some time, but it used to be like 10% and that may be a California thing.

Now after an Earthquake everyone and their mother used to call up and blame every problem on the property on the Earthquake - no matter how old or what the real issue was.  So we would go out, document the "damage", get sworn statements and such.  Then rather deny the claim (as would be appropriate but legally riskier) we would just thank them and point out it is under the deductible.  Now we have the damage documented in the file with them swearing the EQ caused it.  No chance of blaming it on the next wind storm or what ever.

Aug 26, 2011 08:44 AM #61

The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it'll do even better in those areas, but for now it's a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod's strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

May 19, 2015 06:38 PM #62
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Patricia Kennedy

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