According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 42 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake, and there are more than 5,000 earthquakes in the US each year. Yet, in a poll by the Insurance Information Institute, just eight percent of homeowners reported they had earthquake insurance coverage. Earthquakes pose one of the greatest threats of any natural disaster. They can trigger landslides, avalanches, floods, fires and tsunamis. And unlike other natural events, they have no season, they can happen at any time of the year.
In January 1994, the Northridge earthquake in Southern California caused an estimated $44 billion in damage, the costliest in US history. In its aftermath, the California Earthquake Authority was established as a publicly managed provider of earthquake insurance. While earthquakes are most frequent west of the Rocky Mountains, there are risks across the entire United States. The New Madrid Fault spans many of the central states and has resulted in the largest earthquake in the continental US. While the eastern states tend to have lower risk, the potential damage is amplified due to the age of many buildings constructed before modern engineering and construction techniques.
Though earthquakes cannot be prevented, you can take steps to protect your investment properties from their potentially devastating effects. Earthquake coverage is not included under standard property insurance. National Real Estate Insurance Group has recently partnered with Lloyd’s of London to offer a supplemental policy for Earth Movement.
This Earth Movement coverage extends to damage caused by a sudden and violent shaking of the ground resulting from movement of the earth’s crust.* What makes this product especially beneficial is that it also provides coverage to sinkholes, which is typically excluded from standard property policies.
Sinkholes are a naturally occurring depression in the surface of the ground caused by the settlement or sudden collapse of land. Unlike earthquakes, where science can now monitor seismically active areas and faults, there is not a way to determine if there is, or isn’t, a sinkhole on your property. But they can cause extremely costly damages. The USGS conservatively estimates that sinkholes cause $300 million in damage per year.
NREIG’s Earth Movement coverage can provide you additional protection should one of these natural disasters affect your investments. Your coverage comes with a deductible that is 10% of the Total Insured Value per location, subject to a $2,500 minimum and is available in 45 states (exceptions include Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii and Illinois).
To add this coverage to your properties, contact your Client Service Representative.
In addition to insurance coverage, here are a few tips you and your tenants can follow to mitigate losses cause by earth movement:
- Anchor bookcases, freestanding cabinets and other furniture to nearby walls.
Affix self-locking latches to cabinet drawers or doors.
Secure electronic equipment to the floor or table surface with braces or hook and loop closures.
- Use a protective film on glass windows, doors and walls to prevent shattering.
- Replace rigid plumbing supply lines and couplings with flexible braided lines and flexible couples to reduce the chance or rupture.
- Install flexible connection pipes between gas or propane appliances/equipment and their supply lines. Gas lines should have an automatic seismic safety shutoff value at all structure entry points to cut off the flow of gas when seismic activity is sensed.
- Brace mechanical equipment such as boilers, furnaces, air conditioning equipment, and water heaters to the wall and/or floor to prevent overturning or shifting.
- When possible, ensure the hangers supporting your mechanical and plumbing systems are less than 12 inches long to reduce the sway during a tremor.
Learn more at disastersafety.org.
*Coverage does not extend to damage caused by mudslide, lava flow, flood or fire that may have been triggered by the earth movement.
span style=”font-size: small;”>Note: This piece is not to be construed as contractual. Applicable language specific to your policy supersedes it. Information contained in this post is intended to provide you with a brief overview of the coverages provided for reference purposes only. It is not intended to provide you with all policy exclusions, limitations and conditions.