What Is Earthquake Insurance And What Does It Cover?

Learn about what earthquake insurance covers and whether you should look into getting it.

The Marble Promise

More info

At Marble, we're committed to guiding you towards better insurance choices. While our editorial content adheres to strict standards, we do occasionally mention products from partner companies. Find out how we keep the lights on.

More info
What Is Earthquake Insurance And What Does It Cover? What Is Earthquake Insurance And What Does It Cover?

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs who each built a home out of the materials at hand: straw, wood, and brick. Peacefully they went about their business, until one day, a very hungry wolf showed up and tried to eat them. Cowering, they took shelter in their homes, but the straw and the wood could not withstand his huffing and puffing. Only the brick remained.

In the real world, wolves don’t blow over houses — or not that we know of, at least. But earthquakes can and do knock over our homes. And while the three little pigs were able to find shelter in the brick house, that might not work for us humans. In addition to an earthquake kit — stocked with provisions, medicine, and other necessities — insurance can be a real lifesaver.

What Does Earthquake Insurance Cover?

As with any insurance policy, your earthquake coverage will vary by provider and is customizable. But in general, you can expect your policy to cover:

  • Repairs to your home: The policy will pay to repair damages to your home as well as any attached structures, such as a garage.
  • Damage to your belongings: If you lose your belongings in a quake, the policy will help pay to repair or replace them. Keep in mind that some items, like jewelry or art, may not be covered, so make sure to read your policy’s T’s and C’s. 
  • Additional living expenses: If your home cannot be inhabited after a quake, coverage will help pay for temporary housing and meals out. 

You may also receive coverage (or be able to purchase extra coverage) for debris removal, construction to bring your building up to code, and detached structures.

Be aware, though: Most policies do not cover fire or flood damage, sinkholes, vehicles, or any problems that predated the earthquake.

Do You Need Earthquake Insurance?

If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, earthquake insurance should be high on your list of priorities, especially since standard homeowners and renters policies do not come with earthquake insurance. That said, coverage is not legally mandatory. 

California’s penchant for earthquakes is well earned, but fault lines affect the entire country, and tremors have occurred in all fifty states. Not to mention that practices like fracking can increase the frequency of earthquakes. You can learn more about the risks your state faces here.

As a result, you may want to investigate insurance even if you live outside of typical “high risk” regions. The likelihood you might be impacted by an earthquake also depends upon your home. Brick buildings, for instance, do not tend to fare well (sorry to the third little pig!). If your home is older, it may require a seismic retrofit. These are things to keep in mind, especially if you’re a renter and you don’t know if your landlord has retrofitted the property. 

How Much Coverage Should I Get?

Now that’s the million dollar question! If you live in an earthquake zone, how much coverage do you need?

Deductibles for earthquake insurance tend to be high, and places closer to fault lines (we’re looking at you, San Francisco) will be higher still. This means that if you file a claim, a decent portion will have to be paid out of pocket. 

Some policies also come with separate deductibles, so damages to your personal property might have a different deductible than repairs to your home. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium, but if you do need to make a claim following an earthquake, you might have to put down a lot of cash before receiving any payout.

In addition to your deductible, your premiums will be determined by your location, the age of your property, how tall the building is, and what it is made of (straw, wood, brick…), and even the soil beneath the structure. 

There are ways to save, however; namely, making sure your building is as structurally up-to-date as possible. This can be done by bolting down the foundation, reinforcing walls, and installing automatic gas shut-off valves. 

Keep Earthquake Save With Marble

We don’t know when the Big One is coming, which is why it’s vital to be prepared. At Marble, it’s our goal to make sure you’re protected no matter what life brings. That’s why we’ve built a digital wallet where you can shop for policies, compare quotes, and store your documents — all while earning rewards. Sign up today!