Earthquake Insurance: To Buy Or Not To Buy?

A series of earthquakes in Oklahoma over the weekend demonstrates that even if you don’t live in earthquake-prone California, earthquake insurance may be worth checking out.

The New York Times reports that a quake late Saturday night centered near Sparks, about 44 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, had a preliminary magnitude of 5.6, and is the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the state.

No serious injuries were reported, but it appears there was some minor damage to roads and buildings.

The quake was preceded by smaller tremors earlier in the day, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 4.7, centered in Prague, about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City, according to USGS.

Oklahoma’s earth-moving activity has scientists puzzled, according to the NYT. It cites  a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey who  notes  that since mid-2009 the state has had 10 times more earthquakes than normal:

Unlike earthquake-prone California and Japan, Oklahoma does not rest atop the fractious areas where two tectonic plates rub against each other. But the state’s geophysical activity has only been surveyed in earnest for about 50 years, Mr. Holland said, making it difficult to draw conclusions or put the recent activity into context.

But the state does have faults that are buried deep, like the Wizetta Fault, also known as the Seminole Uplift, east of Oklahoma City, where pressure can build.†

Coming in the wake of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia that shook the East Coast in August, the latest seismic activity in Oklahoma is a reminder that many parts of the U.S. face risks from earthquakes and that home- and business owners should reassess their need for earthquake insurance.

Earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, but coverage is available for earthquake damage in the form of a supplemental policy.

Earthquake insurance provides protection from the shaking and cracking that can destroy buildings and personal possessions.

I.I.I. facts and statistics show that California had the highest amount of earthquake premiums in 2009, at $1.6 billion. Virginia, at 23 on the list had $10 million in earthquake premiums, while Oklahoma ranked even lower at 34 with just $4.8 million in earthquake insurance.

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