Want Oklahoma Earthquake Insurance? Get Ready To Wait

Monday, November 7th 2011, 2:56 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

Seeing the damage has some homeowners saying: maybe it's time to buy earthquake insurance. But it's too late for a lot of people.

Earthquake insurance is like flood insurance. It's an add-on to the standard insurance contract, and sometimes, you don't realize you need it until you really need it.

How many times have we heard this in Oklahoma?

"It sounded almost like a freight train," said Broken Arrow resident Corey Dittamore.

But instead of a tornado, it was an earthquake that made bricks crumble and Corey Dittamore scramble.

"Do I have earthquake insurance? I have no idea," he said.

Most homeowners near the epicenter in Lincoln County don't have earthquake insurance. 

11/6/2011 Related Story: More Aftershocks Sunday, After Oklahoma's Largest Earthquake Saturday

"Have you contacted your insurance?" asked Joey Wakefield, Lincoln County Emergency Management.

"Oh, I just don't know what we're going to do," said homeowner Cathy Lindsay, whose Lincoln County home was damaged.

Meanwhile, phones are ringing off the hook at insurance offices.

"Tedford Insurance. How many I direct your call?"

Many companies say there's a hang-up if you want insurance now. 

"If you live on the fault line right now, you cannot get earthquake insurance," said Mike Tedford of Tedford Insurance.

At least, for a while.

Insurance agent Mike Tedford can show customers emails from companies who - for the next few weeks - won't sign off on earthquake insurance for some Oklahomans.

One company included properties within a 100-mile radius from the epicenter. Another increased that range to 500 miles - until we know the ground is settled.

"Just like we can't insure a house that's already on fire, we can't insure something that we know is about to happen," Tedford said.

11/6/2011 Related Story: How To Check Your House For Damages After Earthquake Hits

The moratorium will only last a few weeks, but that's a few weeks too late for most.

Patsy Bowder's among the lucky few.

"I'm 71 years old, and I beat the dust out of the door," said Lincoln County resident Patsy Bowden.

She has earthquake insurance because she moved to Oklahoma from - where else - California.

Earthquake insurance would cost most people about $75 a year for frame homes and $225 for masonry homes.

Remember, companies will resume insuring Oklahomans for earthquakes in a few weeks, so most agents are getting the paperwork done now - while it's top of mind.