3/6/2014 2:06:00 PM Is earthquake insurance for you?
Most Oklahomans have insurance covering their homes and businesses in case tornadoes roar overhead. But, fewer are protected against damage to their property when the ground rumbles underfoot.
With a rise in the number of earthquakes occurring across the state, now might be a good time to explore this specialized coverage, said Sissy Osteen, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension resource management specialist.
"What's causing the earthquakes doesn't matter," Osteen said. "What does matter is whether you're concerned about it. If consumers are worried about it, then the expense of the insurance is just paying for peace of mind."
Less than 1 percent of Oklahoma families have earthquake insurance, according to the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID); however, John D. Doak, the state's insurance commissioner, has encouraged residents to consider acquiring coverage.
Property damage from earthquakes is not usually covered under a typical homeowners or renter's policy. However, earthquake insurance policies are relatively inexpensive, ranging between $100 and $150 a year, generally.
Deductibles, on the other hand, can get pricey. Usually calculated as a percentage of an insured property's value, policy deductibles can run between 2 percent and 10 percent.
That means a policy on $100,000 home with a 10 percent deductible would bring a homeowner's portion to $10,000.
Consumers in the market for additional coverage in case of earthquake damage should begin by calling a trusted insurance professional.
"Before making the decision to purchase anything, shop around, be sure the policy is going to suit your needs and provide the coverage you need and want," Osteen said. "Also, be sure to assess whether the cost tradeoff is going to be worth it for you."
Like other kinds of insurance, earthquake policies can cover various types of damage such as falling brick, cracks in sheetrock and foundation repairs. So, it is important to know how much coverage you want, as well as to ask the insurance professional exactly what the policy covers.
Also, consumers should keep in mind there often is a waiting period to purchase new earthquake policies. Generally that waiting period is 30 days to 60 days after the most recent earthquake reported in their area in order to account for any possible aftershocks.
"If you're really concerned, call and get insured, but make wise choices just like you would with any other type of insurance," Osteen said. "Also, like any other insurance, be sure and read the policy."