The recent earthquake in Haiti is a reminder that our country is also vulnerable to the same type of natural disaster. While quakes are most commonly associated with California, they have occurred in 39 states during the last 100 years, inflicting damage in 50 states. The potential cost of earthquakes has been growing because of increased urban development in seismically active areas and the vulnerability of older buildings which may not have been built or upgraded to current building codes.
5,000: that's how many earthquakes occur each year in the United States. Are you protected? The answer is probably "NO" because earthquake damage is specifically excluded from coverage on all Homeowner and Commercial Property Policies and very few people purchase the extra earthquake endorsement/coverage. The good news is that coverage can be purchased by endorsement for each for relatively low cost (average homeowner earthquake coverage is only $100 per year). Can you afford to lose a $300,000 home when you can purchase $100 of coverage that would protect you? Unfortunately, most people just don't fully understand the huge financial risk of loss if damage is caused by an earthquake.
Many of our clients say "there are no earthquakes in New England", when in fact there are many earthquakes that happen. Did you know that the Northeast experiences and average of 40-50 earthquakes per year? Due to the solid bedrock geology of the Northeast, a large quake will affect a much wider area than an earthquake of similar magnitude in California!
Total Earthquakes by State
1638 - 2007
|State||Years of Record||Number Of Earthquakes|
|Connecticut||1668 - 2007||137|
|Maine||1766 - 2007||544|
|Massachusetts||1668 - 2007||355|
|New Hampshire||1638 - 2007||360|
|New Jersey||1738 - 2007||141|
|New York||1840 - 2007||755|
|Rhode Island||1776 - 2007||38|
|Vermont||1843 - 2007||73|
|Total Number of Earthquakes in Northeast = 2403|
* Northeast is defined here as CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI and VT only. Seismic data from other proximate states (e.g., PA, MD, DE) and border regions of Canada is not included. All data is obtained from Weston Observatory and compiled by NESEC.
Northeast Earthquake Facts
- The cities in the Northeast are among the most densely populated areas in the United States, which places more people at risk in the event of an earthquake.
- The area impacted by an earthquake in the Northeast can be up to 40 times greater than the same magnitude event occurring on the West coast due to our regional geology.
- Approximately 40-50 earthquakes are detected annually in the Northeast.
- The Northeast is home to many older and historic structures that are not designed to withstand the impacts of an earthquake.
- Many older structures in the Northeast, such as schools, hospitals and fire stations, are built of un-reinforced masonry (i.e., "red brick") and are particularly vulnerable to damage or collapse in the event of an earthquake.
- Most states in the Northeast have adopted some seismic provisions into their state building codes for certain types of new construction. However, the coverage, scope and enforcement of these codes varies by state and community.
- Unlike other areas of the country where earthquakes occur along known fault lines (e.g., California), Northeast earthquakes do not correlate with the many known faults that exist in the region.
- While there are many uncertainties about what causes earthquakes in the Northeast, one thing is certain: earthquakes will continue to occur in this region.
This problem is compounded by the fact that a vast majority of homeowners do not purchase earthquake insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Like floods, earthquakes are not covered under standard homeowners or business policies. Coverage, however, is available in the form of an endorsement to the policies. The automobile policy does cover cars and other vehicles for flood and quake damage under the optional comprehensive portion of the policy.
There are generally percentage deductibles on property earthquake coverage, ranging anywhere from 2%-20% of the replacement value of the structure. The standard New England policy includes a deductible that is 5% of the home's replacement cost. Insurers in Washington, Nevada and Utah, states with higher-than-average risk of quakes, often set minimum deductibles at about 10%. In most cases, consumers can request higher deductibles in order to save premium dollars, but remember that 5 or 10% of the average $300,000 home means a deductible of $15-30,000. Therefore, purchasing earthquake insurance is not to fix broken or cracked drywall/plaster, it is really for structural damage to the building.
Why not have a detailed review of your risk of loss (financial loss) at the agency - we have specifically designed need assessment tools and checklists that can help you determine what coverage is most important to you. Kevin P. Sullivan, President/Owner of Sullivan Insurance & Financial often tells clients that he has purchased earthquake coverage for his home and business during client reviews. If your agent is purchasing earthquake insurance, maybe it is time for you too to consider earthquake coverage, as well as other commonly excluded perils such as Flood, Ordinance or Law, Loss Assessment, and many others. Call your agent today, or contact Sullivan Insurance & Financial for a detailed review - you will be better informed and be able to make "informed decisions" about your coverage. You may even save money in the process!
Unlike other disasters such as hurricanes, there are no seasons or warnings for earthquakes. And again, like floods, they can happen almost anywhere at any time. Everyone, no matter where they live, should have a disaster recovery plan for their homes and businesses that includes securing the right type and amount of insurance. Visit our website or call Sullivan Insurance & Financial for more information concerning coverage exclusions, endorsements and cost of earthquake insurance for your home or business.