Today is the first annual "Great Shakeout" for the Southeastern United States. The Shakeout is a preparedness and awareness drill that has been observed in California for some time but has not been expanded to include much of the country and parts of Canada. You can check out their website at http://www.shakeout.org/. There are over a thousand earthquakes in the US each year. Most are too small to feel or cause damage but, all it takes is one big one to rock your world. Homeowners insurance does not cover earthquakes but you can usually endorse your policy or buy a separate policy. Here is an article that appeared in the NY Times following the earthquake in Mineral VA:
Is Earthquake Insurance Worth the Cost?
By ANN CARRNS
Like many homeowners, we pretty much ignored the option of earthquake coverage when we bought an insurance policy for our home. After all, we reasoned, it’s not as if we live in California.
But last month’s earthquake based in Mineral, Va., which registered 5.8 on the Richter scale and was felt along the East Coast from Georgia to Canada, made us wonder if it’s worth paying for coverage.
A few thousand earthquakes occur each year in the United States, according to the Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center. But the vast majority are low-magnitude quakes that don’t cause damage. (About 60 smaller earthquakes struck Arkansas, where I live, for instance, in February.) Coverage can be expensive if you live in a higher-risk area.
Like damage from floods, damage from earthquakes isn’t covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, said Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.
To buy protection for your home and belongings, you typically must add an endorsement to your homeowner’s policy and pay an extra premium, which varies based on how close you live to known fault lines, the stability of the soils in your area and the type of home.
A wood-frame home in Washington State, for instance, might cost $1 to $3 per $1,000 worth of coverage, she said, while it may cost less than 50 cents per $1,000 on the East Coast.
Insuring a brick home, meanwhile (which is more vulnerable to damage from shaking), could cost from $3 to $15 per $1,000 in the Pacific Northwest, and 60 to 90 cents per $1,000 for coverage in New York.
Deductibles range from 2 percent of the replacement value of the structure to 20 percent, Ms. Worters said. Areas like Washington, Nevada and Utah, with higher than average risk, often have a 10 percent deductible. As with most types of insurance, you can often lower your premium by raising your deductible.
In California, an area of seismic activity, the average annual premium is $707, according to the California Earthquake Authority, which sells insurance to homeowners there. The coverage generally pays to repair or replace your home, subject to the deductible, but there are often exclusions, like for patios and detached garages. Just 12 percent of homeowners in California carry coverage, according to the earthquake authority, down from about 33 percent in 1996 — when the memory of the deadly Northridge earthquake in 1994 was still fresh.
Policies generally cover the structure of a house, its contents and additional living expenses in the event of an earthquake