The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 42 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake. In the United States, there are more than 5,000 earthquakes each year. Yet, in a poll by the Insurance Information Institute, just eight percent of homeowners reported having earthquake insurance coverage. Earthquakes pose the greatest threat of any natural disaster. They can trigger landslides, avalanches, floods, fires, and tsunamis. Unlike other natural events, they have no season and can happen at any time of the year.
In January 1994, the Southern California Northridge earthquake caused an estimated $44 billion in damage, the costliest in U.S. history. The aftermath of this natural disaster caused the state to establish the California Earthquake Authority as a publicly managed provider of earthquake insurance. While earthquakes are most frequent west of the Rocky Mountains, there are risks across the entire United States. The New Madrid Fault spans many of the central states and has resulted in the largest earthquake in the continental U.S. Eastern states tend to have lower risk, but the potential for damage is amplified due to the age of buildings, many constructed before modern engineering and construction techniques.
REInsurePro’s Earth Movement Policy
Though earthquakes cannot be prevented, your investor clients can take steps to protect properties from their potentially devastating effects. Earthquake coverage is not included under standard property insurance. REInsurePro is able to offer a supplemental policy for Earth Movement on our monthly reporting form.
This Earth Movement coverage extends to damage caused by a sudden and violent shaking of the ground resulting from movement of the earth’s crust.* What makes this product especially beneficial is that it also provides coverage to sinkholes, which are typically excluded from standard property policies.
Sinkholes are naturally occurring depressions in the ground caused by the settlement or sudden collapse of the surface layer. Although advancements in science allow us to monitor seismically active earthquake areas and faults, there is no way to determine if there is or isn’t a sinkhole on a property. Sinkholes can cause extreme damage and be very costly to investors. The United States Geological Survey estimates that sinkholes cause $300 million in damage per year.
REInsurePro’s Earth Movement coverage can provide your investor clients with additional protection should one of these natural disasters affect their investments. The deductible for this coverage is 10% of the Total Insured Value per location, subject to a $2,500 minimum, and is available in 45 states. Excluded states are Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Illinois.
Investors can mitigate additional loss with these tips
In addition to insurance coverage, here are a few helpful tips for investors and their tenants:
- Anchor bookcases, freestanding cabinets, and other furniture to nearby walls. Affix self-locking latches to cabinet drawers or doors. Secure electronic equipment to the floor or table surface with braces or hook and loop closures.
- Use a protective film on glass windows, doors, and walls to prevent shattering.
- Replace rigid plumbing supply lines and couplings with flexible braided lines and flexible couples to reduce the chance of rupture.
- Install flexible connection pipes between gas or propane appliances/equipment and their supply lines. Gas lines should have an automatic seismic safety shutoff valve at all structure entry points to cut off the flow of gas when seismic activity is sensed.
- Brace mechanical equipment such as boilers, furnaces, air conditioning equipment, and water heaters to the wall and/or floor to prevent overturning or shifting.
- When possible, ensure the hangers supporting mechanical and plumbing systems are less than 12 inches long to reduce the sway during a tremor.
*Coverage does not extend to damage caused by mudslide, lava flow, flood or fire that may have been triggered by earth movement.
Note: This piece is not to be construed as contractual. Applicable language specific to the policy supersedes it. Information contained in this post is intended to provide a brief overview of the coverages provided for reference purposes only. It is not intended to provide all policy exclusions, limitations and conditions.