Oklahoma earthquake raises the question of earthquake insurance in the middle of America

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Could it happen here? How would you pay for earthquake damage to your home?

Gary Silverman is an independent insurance agent and broker in Chesterfield.

“Earthquake coverage is not a part of most homeowner’s policies,” said Silverman.  “It is an optional endorsement, however.”

Silverman said about two-thirds of his clients do take the optional endorsement.

“I always want to have the conversation with my clients, because we do have the fault line down by the Missouri-Arkansas border.  So it's important to have the conversation and say here's how earthquake insurance works.  Earthquake insurance does come with very high deductibles-- about 15-20% deductible.  So we're talking 15-20% of the coverage amount you have.”

In other words, if your home is worth $200,000, with a 15% deductible you would be responsible for the first $30,000 worth of damage caused by an earthquake.

“But the good news is the insurance company pays 80-85% of the damage,” said Silverman.

If your home was built before 1950, you may have difficulty obtaining earthquake insurance coverage.  But there are things you can do to your house, to make sure you qualify.

Silverman said, “Some of carriers will offer the earthquake endorsement on older homes, but they do want to make sure the chimney is braced to the foundation, and the sill plate and hot water heater… things like that… are braced to the foundation.  Otherwise they really do not want to touch it.”

And Silverman said if you do have to get some of that work done, you can expect it to cost several hundred dollars.  Perhaps not prohibitive, if you consider the earthquake damage protection it affords you.