Q: Who sells earthquake insurance? I have insurance through a national insurance carrier but they no longer carry it as an extra option. Can you get earthquake insurance from a central location and still keep my current insurance carrier?
A: Insurance carriers seem to have changed what coverages they have offered homeowners since the early 1990s, particularly in the aftermath of heavy damage from hurricanes in Florida at that time.
Recently some national insurance companies have pulled out from certain states while others continue to offer coverages in those same states. Earthquake insurance is a special type of coverage that is typically excluded from a standard homeowner’s insurance policy unless there is a state mandate to require the coverage.
As you might have seen during the recent earthquake and hurricane to hit the east coast, most homeowners do not carry floor or earthquake insurance. In general, you can obtain flood insurance through a program set up by the federal government. You may have the choice of the type and extent of coverage to buy depending on where you live and whether you live in a flood hazard area. For this type of insurance, you can get more information and a referral to an insurance agent in your area by going to www.FloodSmart.gov.
Unfortunately, there is no government equivalent for earthquake insurance as there is for flood insurance. But there are insurance companies out there that are still willing to furnish homeowners with earthquake insurance. Some states have state programs or funds to assist people in obtaining coverage for earthquake. One such state is California. However, some insurance companies will not cover earthquake insurance at all, while others will cover earthquakes in some states but not others. For example USAA Insurance offers earthquake insurance in many states but not in Oregon or Washington State. They also offer earthquake insurance in California through the California Earthquake Authority.
You might want to check with an independent insurance agent to have him or her review your homeowner’s insurance policy and then make recommendations to you. While you might be able to buy a rider from a different company to cover you in the event of an earthquake, it may be cheaper for you to buy a new policy to cover your home for all of your needs.
Frequently insurance carriers will give homeowners a better deal on insurance coverages if that homeowner has coverage with the same company for their home and auto.