Earthquake: Don’t Assume Damage is Covered

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Lindeen urges Montanans to think about earthquake insurance during statewide drill

HELENA, Mont. – As thousands across the state prepare for a statewide earthquake drill tomorrow, Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen reminds Montanans not to assume their homeowner’s insurance policy will cover damage caused by an earthquake.

It probably doesn’t.

“Unless you have specifically requested and paid for an earthquake rider to your policy, earthquake damage will not be covered,” Lindeen said. “Earthquake is not covered by standard homeowner’s policies. If you are thinking about earthquakes in advance of our statewide drill, I urge you to also think about insurance.”

Montana is one of the most seismically active states in the country, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey. In 1935, a series of quakes caused an estimated $4 million in damage to Helena and East Helena and caused four deaths.

An estimated 150,000 Montanans will participate in a statewide earthquake drill on Wednesday, October 22 – the largest earthquake drill in the country.

Most felt quakes in Montana occur in the western third of the state, but a home’s location is not the sole determination insurance companies use to help set the cost of earthquake insurance. Homes built in loamy soils, which are more subject to the shaking caused by a quake, are more likely to experience damage and insurance on those homes could be higher than insurance for homes built in rocky areas. Owners of masonry homes generally pay more for earthquake insurance than owners of frame homes.

Prices vary widely, Lindeen said, based on the kind of plan a person buys and how large their deductible is. Some earthquake riders are more costly than others and Lindeen urged Montanans considering earthquake insurance to study plans closely to make the best choice.