Is Earthquake Insurance Worth It For Green Country Homeowners?

Monday, November 4th 2013, 5:29 pm
By: Craig Day

Another string of small earthquakes was recorded this weekend in central Oklahoma. The strongest was a 3.7 magnitude quake near Edmond.

The state Insurance Commissioner is encouraging Oklahomans to buy earthquake insurance. What does that insurance cover - and how much does it cost?

The U.S. Geological Survey says Oklahoma gets an average of 40 earthquakes each year. State leaders say homeowners need to protect themselves before the next one happens.

Before Oklahoma's record breaking 5.6 magnitude quake in November 2011, only 5 percent of State Farm's customers had earthquake coverage. But that powerful quake was a wake up call for many Oklahomans.

10/30/2013 Related Story: OK Insurance Commissioner Talks Earthquake Coverage

"The phones were just going crazy," said Janine Morales, insurance agent at State Farm. Morales says the number of earthquake policies written since then has nearly doubled.

The November 2011 earthquake destroyed 14 homes and damaged dozens. Standard homeowners insurance policies don't cover the damage costs.

"It's not as expensive as people think, and it's not a part of the standard homeowners policy," Morales said. "You have to actually select to add it on."

Yet, it's estimated less than one percent of Oklahomans carry earthquake insurance. It costs about $35 dollars a year for a $100,000 home, and covers damage, the loss of personal property in an earthquake, and the cost to remove debris.

"There are a lot of unknowns, it's all about risk.  How much you want to absorb," said State Farm Insurance agent Janine Morales.

11/4/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma Seismologist Discusses Earthquakes With Other Experts

Morales says it's important for homeowners to remember rather than a flat deductible, earthquake deductibles are different than your regular homeowners' policies.

"Earthquake has separate deductibles. You get to pick between 2 percent of your home's value, or 5 percent," she said.

She says 2 percent is hard to get, and the premium cost may more if you own a brick home. The best advice is to ask an insurance agent questions and a lot of them.

"Insurance is all about risk, how much risk do you want to take on?" Morales said.

Any quake over a 5.0, State Farm has a 30 day moratorium on purchasing earthquake insurance because of the possibility of aftershocks. Some companies go as long as six months.