The merits of earthquake coverage

April 18, 2008
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Everyone has a story to tell today about this morningâ??s earthquake, which came from West Salem, Ill., and measured 5.4 on the Richter scale. People were awakened. Things moved.

This quake was a piker compared to the devastation the New Madrid fault could throw at us. That fault, which runs along the eastern edge of Missouriâ??s bootheel, is thought to have produced three to five quakes in 1811 and 1812, with at least one measuring above 8 on the Richter scale.

Hard to believe, maybe, but they are said to have rang church bells in Boston and cracked Washington, D.C., sidewalks.

Seismologists say it could happen again. Yet, who knows how far in the future that might be?

Is it worth the expense for businesses and homeowners in this part of the country to carry extra insurance?
  • Certainly it is. Offhand, I believe the earthquake rider on my homeowners policy only runs me about $60 per year with a 10 percent deductible.
  • Yeah I just bought a condo in an older building on North Meridian. It was only going to be an extra $5 a month so I said what the heck! I had learned about the New Madrid Fault line and new that 100 year time frame was coming up. Everyone was laughing at me when I got it, now I'm going home after work to inspect for cracks! HA!
  • Because my husband grew up in Vincennes, which is much closer to the New Madrid fault, we added earthquake insurance a long time ago. It's reasonably cheap and will cover us in case any of the masonry fails on our house. I think it's totally worth it.
  • I suspect the earthquake premiums have just been raised.
  • Really, earthquake insurance talk this quickly? Should you get earthquake coverage... I don't think so. If we were in California, yes, get earthquake coverage... but we're not. And just because we had a very minor (emphasis on minor) earthquake doesn't mean everyone should run out the door and add earthquake coverage to their homeowner's policy. The natural disasters that people in Indiana should be more worried about, in regards to their home, are floods (if you're in a flood zone) and tornadoes. But, continue to pass on the earthquake coverage... put 2 and 2 together people... the reason that the earthquake coverage is so cheap is because the insurance companies don't have to pay out for it here... they're trying to nickel and dime you by playing on your fears.
  • Andrew,

    While thousands of earthquakes happen every year in the U.S. (primarily in the western states, Alaska and Hawaii), only a small percentage of them actually register over 5 on the Richter scale. Was this a minor quake compared to, say, the Northridge quake in California a few years back or the New Madrid events mentioned in the article? Absolutely. But a quake measuring over 5 would best be described as MODERATE, not minor.

    Also, it should be noted that a quake measuring 5.2 in Indiana would most likely cause much more damage than if it had occured someplace in California for a couple of reasons. One, unlike California, where quakes are a relatively regular occurence, most buildings and infrastructure haven't been built (historically) to resist the stresses of a major geological event. Secondly, due to the fact that there are relatively few faults (stress relievers) in the midwest as compared to California, any quake here would likely cause much more intense movement. It is just the nature of geology. (Note the fact that this quake DID cause damage in Louisville AND Indianapolis, both hundreds of miles from the epicenter.)

    Earthquake insurance is a fairly inexpensive option to the traditional coverage that most homeowners would normally carry anyway. I think that the benfits of that additional coverage would FAR outweigh the expense.
  • Hey Norm, one other interesting fact about that big New Madrid quake you mentioned...... it is said to have actually reversed the course of a portion of the Mississippi River, briefly. Amazing! It also the strongest recorded earthquake to have ever occured in the continental United States. That's right, STRONGEST EVER... right here in the mid-west, NOT California (Andrew).
  • Thanks, Marshall. The New Madrid fault and the quakes it caused are really a fascinating study. Imagine the history we'd have available to us had the quakes happened after the Midwest was developed and populated with scientists and news organizations.
  • Marshall,
    You must be an insurance agent. 5.2 is a MINOR earthquake. There WAS NOT any serious damage reported near the epicenter, let alone here... and dishes being broken doesn't count as serious damage. So, you need to check your information again.
    So, my question for you is, which do you sell... State Farm, Nationwide, Allstate, etc.?

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