Oklahoma Becoming Fertile Ground for Earthquake Insurance

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  • In many parts of the country, the point of buying earthquake insurance is often lost on homeowners because there’s little need to ever obtain it. While such tectonic incidents are common on the West Coast, the vast majority of the U.S. rarely suffers earthquakes, and when they do, the events are relatively minor. However, one area of the Midwest in particular is dealing with them with increasing frequency, and as such, more people there are investing in home insurance policies that help protect against them. Consequently, insurance agents might want to educate their clients who do not yet have such add-ons for their policies of the importance of doing so.

    Oklahoma has been hit with so many earthquakes this year – about 11 a day, or 2,300 in total, over the first seven months of 2014 – that many residents are scurrying to add earthquake insurance protection to their existing home policies, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek. In fact, the number of policies being sought by Oklahomans has increased 500 percent in three years or so, despite the fact that all previous earthquakes there haven’t been particularly large; the frequency with which they’re happening seems to be ginning up a lot of the concern.

    Today, 15 percent of residents have this type of coverage on their home insurance policies, up from 3 percent as recently as the end of 2011, the report said. Fortunately for residents, this coverage isn’t particularly costly, at between $100 and $150 per property. As such, the amount of money paid into these plans specifically has more than doubled, to $11.6 million, over the last three years. Meanwhile, overall home insurance premiums only increased 18 percent.

    How bad is it?
    However, it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of these events haven’t caused much damage, the report said. The largest one recorded in the state during the last few years took place in 2011, when an earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale damaged more than a dozen homes. It should also be noted, though, that both the impact and frequency of these incidents have been generally on the rise.

    Agents who can encourage consumers to take on as many types of policies as possible when their properties are at risk for specific incidents may help those clients to avoid serious losses if their homes are hit. Striking a good balance between finding low prices and providing good customer service can therefore be vital.