Earthquakes are a fact of life in California. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, you might wonder whether you need earthquake insurance.
An earthquake is an intense shaking of Earth’s surface. The shaking is caused by movements in Earth’s outermost layer. Although the Earth looks like a pretty solid place from the surface, it is extremely active just below the surface.
While we do know that earthquakes will happen, we do not know exactly when. We do know that they can cause a lot of damage to your home and your belongings. You may even have to move out of your home while it is repaired or rebuilt.
Homeowners, renters, and condominium insurance policies do not cover damage from natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides. Earthquake insurance can help pay for some of your losses.
What is earthquake insurance and how does it work?
Earthquake insurance is an added endorsement to your existing homeowner or renter’s policy, or a separate earthquake policy you buy. Earthquake insurance covers some of the losses and damage that earthquakes can cause to your home, belongings, and other buildings on your property.
Before you buy earthquake insurance
If you have a mortgage, you must have homeowners’ insurance, but you do not have to buy earthquake insurance. Your homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage (except fire). In addition to your homeowners’ insurance, you must purchase separate earthquake insurance if you so desire.
I have homeowner’s insurance. How can I get earthquake insurance?
If you have homeowner’s insurance in California, your insurance company must offer to sell you earthquake insurance. Your homeowner’s insurance company must offer this every other year. The offer must be in writing. It must tell you the amounts it covers (the limits), the deductible, and the premium.
Does earthquake insurance cover all damage from earthquakes?
No. There are limits on what earthquake insurance pays. The purpose of earthquake insurance is to help put a roof back over your head. It does not replace everything you lost.
What if I rent?
You can buy earthquake insurance to cover damage to your belongings and to pay for living somewhere else while your rented home is being repaired.
What if I have a condo?
You can buy earthquake insurance to cover damage to your belongings. It can also pay for living somewhere else while your condo is being repaired. You may also need insurance to help pay for your condo association assessment to repair your building. Talk to your condo association.
What if I have a mobile home?
You can buy earthquake insurance to cover damage to your home and belongings. It can also pay for living somewhere else while your mobile home is being repaired.
The California Earthquake Authority
The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) provides most earthquake insurance in California. CEA offers earthquake policies, for homeowners, mobilehome owners, condo unit owners, and renters. You cannot buy earthquake insurance directly from CEA you buy it directly from insurance companies that are members of CEA.
You must have a residential property insurance policy in place in order to get a CEA earthquake policy. You must purchase your CEA policy from the same insurance company that you have your residential policy with-see the list of CEA-participating insurers here.
Visit the CEA website at www2.earthquakeauthority.com for more information.
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