No, the standard homeowner’s policy does not cover loss due to earth movement. Earth movement is defined as:
- The land shock wave that occurs before, during or after a volcanic eruption
- Mine subsidence, subsidence or sink hole
- Earth sinking, rising or shrinking
There would be coverage for a loss resulting from subsequent damage, which is damage that arises as a result from another loss. That would apply to fire, theft, or explosion resulting from earth movement.
Let’s say that an earthquake occurs, and as a result a candle falls off the kitchen table and causes a fire to a portion of your home. The losses from the fire would be covered, but any other damage done to the house from the actual earthquake, would not be covered.
Does this mean you can’t purchase earthquake coverage?
Not at all! It would be recommended to purchase earthquake coverage if you live in area more prone to earthquake losses. Keep in mind that earthquake coverage is intended to be used for large losses. A fallen picture frame, or broken TV are probably not going to be worth it to claim on your insurance. Losses exceeding tens of thousands of dollars and more than the deductible, probably would make sense to open a claim.
If added, the earthquake policy would extend to coverage’s A (dwelling), B (other structures) and C (contents) of the homeowner’s policy. The added endorsement includes land shock waves or tremors accompanying a volcanic eruption. Earthquake insurance usually carries a higher deductible than the typical deductibles that would apply to a home due to other losses. The standard deductible options for earthquake are 5%, 10% or 15% of coverage A (dwelling replacement), and usually a separate deductible for coverage C (personal property).
If you have a replacement cost of $200,000 for your home and you want to add earthquake coverage, the smallest deductible would be $10,000 or 5% of $200,000, for any loss sustained to your home because of the earthquake.
Is an earthquake likely where I live? According to the national geographic society, a repeat of the 1811-1812 earthquakes in Missouri, could cause widespread damage from St. Louis to Memphis. The reason why this would be more catastrophic, is because the ground rock in the Midwest is much more rigid than it is in the west, where earthquakes are more common, so seismic waves would not dissipate and therefor travel much further, causing more damage, to more areas.