Do you need earthquake insurance? Insurance agents say coverage is inexpensive

Published 3:08 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

In the past two weeks, three earthquakes have been confirmed a county or so away. If that gives local  homeowners pause, local insurance agents say adding an earthquake rider to a homeowner’s policy is relatively inexpensive.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 2.3 magnitude earthquake at 8:27 p.m. Tuesday near Flomaton. On Monday afternoon, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded near Flomaton, and last week, a 2.7 magnitude quake was recorded near Century, Fla.

Alabama doesn’t rest along the edge of a major tectonic plate, like California. However, there are several intraplate faults running through the state that can cause frequent small earthquakes, and rare larger ones.

Bob O’Neal, owner of The O’Neal Agency, said that in his 25 years of insurance, he has never had an earthquake claim.

“I can thankfully say that we have never had an earthquake claim,” O’Neal said. “I would never recommend to one of our customers that they don’t need to buy one, but most of them just don’t have that in their mindset whenever they are purchasing homeowners’ insurance.”

O’Neal said that the rider can be added to a person’s homeowner’s insurance for a cheap price.

“Now there is a large deductible, usually five to 10 percent,” O’Neal said. “Most companies are 10 percent though. Like if your home is insured for $100,000 and you have an earthquake claim, your minimum deductible would be $10,000. Most all companies add it as an add on. It’s not like a flood policy where you would have to purchase another policy. For us, we only charge an $8 charge to add it on your homeowner’s insurance.”

Lucky Cope from Alfa insurance agreed.

“I don’t think it is over $30 to $40 a year,” Cope said. “It is actually pretty cheap.”

He said that he has actually added on a couple of the earthquake claims to some clients’ homeowners’ policies.

“This is an endorsement to add to a policy,” Cope said. “So if I am reviewing a client’s file or if I am getting a new client and they show interest in it then I will definitely tell them about it.”

This week’s 3.1 magnitude earthquake was not the strongest recorded in Escambia County, or Alabama.

In 1997, a magnitude-4.9 earthquake was recorded northeast of Atmore. That quake was the second largest ever-recorded in Alabama, behind an estimated magnitude-5.2 quake that hit northern Shelby County in 1916.

There are now 374 recorded earthquakes in Alabama according to the Geological Survey of Alabama records, dating back to 1886.