Canadian Underwriter

Half of all BC homeowners don’t have earthquake insurance

March 9, 2012  

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Should an earthquake occur, many BC homeowners wouldn’t be adequately insured for loss. Earthquake insurance is widely available in BC, but only 40% to 60% of people add it to their home insurance policies, according to Square One Insurance. The one-year anniversary of Japan’s deadly earthquake is an important reminder that earthquakes do in fact happen and that BC is in an earthquake zone.

“Many of the homeowners we spoke with were surprised to learn that if they were to stay with their traditional home insurance policy, they wouldn’t be covered in the event of an earthquake,” says Daniel Mirkovic, president & CEO, Square One Insurance. “Homeowners often assume that earthquake insurance is automatically included, and while it is with a few insurance companies, there’s often an additional charge.”

Many homeowners cite the following reasons for not having earthquake insurance:

  • The government will provide disaster relief to residents.
  • Insurance companies won’t have enough money to pay in the event of an earthquake.
  • Earthquake insurance is too expensive.

“These are common misconceptions,” adds Mirkovic. “While earthquake insurance is by no means cheap – in fact, it can account for as much as one-third of a home insurance policy – BC residents have access to better coverage and lower rates in relation to other earthquake-prone areas.”

For example, a BC house insured for $300,000 with $210,000 in personal property and $75,000 in additional living expenses would have an annual earthquake premium ranging from $225 to $485. A California house insured for $300,000 with only $100,000 in personal property and $25,000 in additional living expenses would have an annual earthquake premium of about $865.

BC homeowners and renters should ask themselves the following questions to ensure they’re adequately covered in the event of an earthquake:

  • Is earthquake coverage included in your base policy? Review your current home insurance policy and consult your insurance advisor for confirmation.
  • If you do have earthquake coverage, do you have enough coverage for your personal property? For example, in California, the base earthquake policy only provides $5,000 of coverage for personal property. This means that the majority of homeowners wouldn’t be able to replace much of their contents.
  • If you have earthquake coverage, are you covered for additional living expenses should you be unable to live in your home while it’s being repaired? In California, the base earthquake policy only provides $1,500 for additional living expenses. Hotel accommodations can quickly add up, it’s important that you have enough coverage to last you until your home is safe to return to.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.

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