Earthquake insurance requires separate coverage

TOPEKA, Kan. – Earthquake insurance coverage in Kansas requires a separate policy or endorsement to your regular homeowners insurance policy, according to Ken Selzer, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance.

“Earthquake coverage is not a part of a regular homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy,” Selzer said. “If your insurance company offers it – and many do – coverage can be added by including an endorsement to your policy or by purchasing a separate earthquake policy.”

In either case, Selzer said, you will pay an extra premium. Instead of a dollar amount, the deductible for that premium will probably be a percentage of the cost of rebuilding your home. There might also be a separate deductible for the home’s contents.

“The type of home construction could also determine the insurability of the structure as well,” he said. “Wood frame homes often withstand earthquakes better than brick or stone structures, and their rates may be less costly. Single-story homes may receive better rates. And the age of the home may affect the cost.”

One other factor in the cost of the coverage could be the number of claims filed. More claims may determine whether an insurance company changes its premiums. That process is similar to how premiums for others lines of insurance are structured.

“Kansans should also remember that earthquake policies usually cover only structural and foundation damage to a home,” Selzer said. “That is why it is important, if you are considering the coverage, that you talk over the specifics with your local agent.”

Selzer also offered these points to consider about earthquake coverage:

  • Coverage doesn’t include damage to your vehicles. That may be covered under your current automobile policy. Check with your local insurance agent or company to verify your vehicle coverage.
  • The time to buy the coverage is before an earthquake. Most insurers won’t sell any new earthquake insurance for 30 to 60 days after a recent earthquake. Check with your insurance company to be sure.
  • As with any household coverage, make a household inventory. Go through each room to write down and video everything. Store the inventory in a secure place at another location, such as a safe deposit box.

A survey by the Insurance Information Institute shows that only eight percent of homeowners in the Midwest have earthquake insurance. In Oklahoma, where earthquakes have been prevalent during the past few years, a total of 15 percent of homeowners have the coverage, according to the institute.

For more information, contact the Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484, or see www.ksinsurance.org.

Information thanks to the Kansas Insurance Department.

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