Residents near Christchurch, New Zealand were recently struck with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, reminding the United States of their vulnerability to a natural disaster of this type.
It is estimated that this earthquake in New Zealand caused billions in damages, with some estimates going as high as the equivalent to $8 billion in U.S. dollars. And from this earthquake - like any natural disaster - not only were lives lost, but properties and personal belongings were extensively damaged and ruined, leaving homeowners and business owners wondering if the insurance they have will even cover the expenses.
When looking at the U.S., standard insurance policies for both homeowners and businesses do not cover earthquakes. However, even though the damage from the actual earthquake is not covered, many standard insurance policies do cover those losses that were caused by a fire, which could have been ignited due to the earthquake.
And while standard insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage, homeowners and business owners are usually able to purchase supplemental coverage that would cover an earthquake. These policies typically carry some sort of deductible that is normally a percentage of the value of the structure, and can range in some cases from as low as 2 percent to as high as 20 percent.
Typically, earthquake coverage rates are determined by a number of factors, including where the home or business is located, and the construction materials that were used to build the structures.
Another supplemental option that may be available is for vehicles damaged in an earthquake. This coverage would be made available under the optional comprehensive portion of a person's auto insurance.
And while some people and business owners reading this may be thinking that they are in the clear since they already did purchase earthquake insurance, or even just the optional portion of coverage for their auto insurance, sometimes insurance companies will still attempt to deny a reasonable claim, or even just delay a reasonable claim. In those situations there is legal action one can take to ensure he or she receives the money that is deserved in a timely matter.
Source: Insurance Information Institute, "New Zealand Earthquake Offers Stark Reminder of U.S. Vulnerability to Such Disasters, I.I.I," 23 Feb 2011