Insurers Take In Millions From OK Quake Insurance; Pay Out Little

Thursday, September 8th 2016, 11:10 pm
By: News On 6

Following last Saturday's record-breaking earthquake in Oklahoma, many people are learning their damage isn't covered under their home owner's insurance - but they might be surprised to know it likely wouldn't be covered even if they had earthquake insurance.

A joint investigation with our partners at The Frontier shows Oklahomans have paid more than $135 million in earthquake insurance since 2010, but the insurance companies have paid less than $5 million in claims.

So is it worth it to get earthquake insurance?

Chelsea Mize said she started feeling her house move the day of the earthquake, but it wasn't until two days later that her problems began.

Marty: "But right now, you can't live in there?"
Mize: "No, no, not at all."

She was doing laundry with her 2-year-old son when she heard a tree outside her home crack.

She grabbed her boy and ran for the door when, moments later, her ceiling collapsed. With no earthquake insurance, her agent told her the damage isn't covered because her ceiling is too heavy.

"The plaster from the ceiling and the paint over time that caused it to collapse," she said.

But even with earthquake insurance, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said she likely wouldn't be covered.

The Frontier: Insurers Reaped $135 Million Selling Quake Policies, Paid Out $4.5 Million

"If your home goes to the ground, that's the type of coverage we're talking about," Doak said.

It's like that because insurance companies can pay out more in one earthquake event than they've ever collected.

"It's a delicate coverage, and we want to make sure that the companies have the financial solvency to pay these claims," said Doak.

But say you have it, and five years and your cracked wall leads to the foundation sinking, Doak says hidden damage is also covered damage, no matter what type of claim it is.

Just make sure you detail the damage by taking pictures and documenting the loss.

Since there has been increased earthquake activity, Doak thinks it's time for common sense insurance ideas moving forward.

"It's time for Oklahoma to strengthen building codes," he said.

While she's thinking about adding earthquake insurance, Mize just isn't sure the current plans are worth it.

"Even if you have it, it's difficult to get coverage [a claim paid]," she said.

If you’d like to help Mize, a Go Fund Me page has been created to help.