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Earthquake Protection – Do You Need Coverage?

When the threat of earthquakes arises, most Americans think only about California, or more recently Haiti.  For many years, the San Andreas Fault Line has been the recipient of much of the press concerning earthquakes in the U.S.  Furthermore, predictions concerning the ultimate cataclysm believed by many to eventually be centered there have given it a mythical stature unrivalled by fault lines elsewhere in the country.

Despite all the focus on the San Andreas Fault, California does not have a monopoly on earthquakes. The New Madrid Fault Line, centered in Missouri, has been cited by the U.S. Geological Survey as being a potential source of a significant earthquake threat.  The USGS also notes that earthquakes in the central and eastern parts of the country usually have a broader range than their western counterparts.  One such earthquake along the New Madrid Fault Line in 1811 rang church bells as far away as Boston, Massachusetts, about 1,000 miles away from the epicenter!  More recently, in April 2003, a quake measuring 4.9 on the Richter Scale hit Alabama.  A year earlier, a slightly more powerful quake hit Plattsburgh, NY.   In January 2002, a 5.0 quake hit Evansville, Indiana.  These quakes all shook neighboring states and caused significant damage to businesses, homes and infrastructure in and around their epicenters.

Although none of these quakes equaled the intensity and resulting damage caused by the Northridge Earthquake of 1994, they do serve to support the idea that it may be wise to consider adding earthquake coverage to your property policy even if you are not located in close proximity to a known fault line. 

Since earthquake insurance is generally an elective coverage, it may prove to be beneficial to do a quick review to determine whether or not it is a covered peril.  Also, look at any scheduled property endorsements or personal property floaters to see if specific items are covered for earthquake-related damage regardless of whether or not the earthquake coverage endorsement has been purchased.   If the answer is “no” to any of these questions and you would like to obtain a quote, contact your agent for details.