While there's little question that you should have homeowners insurance to protect your home in the event of a myriad of covered accidents and catastrophes, whether you need - or should take - earthquake insurance isn't quite so cut and dried.
This is mostly because insuring your home against earthquakes is costly. So why add another monthly payment for a natural disaster that may - or may not - happen?
The best reason to obtain earthquake insurance is if you own your home (whether or not you have a mortgage), and are not in the financial position to pay in full for the damage to your home resulting from an earthquake immediately without any insurance reimbursement.
Here are a few additional reasons to seriously consider your family's ability to financially weather an earthquake, and to help you avoid financial aftershocks.
Earthquake Insurance Versus Home Insurance
Earthquakes are not covered in your home insurance policy. Which means if your home sustains earthquake damage, the initial damage, and any subsequent damage such as flooding and foundational shifts that make your home unstable, will not be covered by your home owners insurance.
What a separate earthquake insurance policy covers. Earthquake insurance covers the damage to your home and its contents that are a direct result of an earthquake, including subsequent fires, flooding, or foundational damage.
Cost of quake insurance. Expect to pay more for insurance if you live in a high-risk quake area like California. But the age of your home and its value directly affects the cost of your monthly insurance premiums.
Buy insurance before an earthquake. If there's been a recent earthquake, most insurers won't sell any new earthquake insurance for 30 to 60 days. This is because after a sizable earthquake, damaging aftershocks can occur in the days and weeks following the temblor. If insurance is right for you, purchase before a major earthquake occurs.
How to Make the Most of Your Earthquake Insurance Coverage
To make the most of your earthquake insurance coverage, take video or multiple photographs at several angles of the higher-value items in your home. Additional things you can do include:
Engrave big-ticket items such as flat-screen TVs and stereo systems with your name or other identifying marks to make them easier to locate.
Have expensive jewelry, antiques, stamp or coin collections appraised.
Store your earthquake insurance policy, appraisals, and photos or video in a secure location away from your home, such as your workplace, a safe deposit box, a friend's home or online.
Pay your premium on time. Some insurers don't accept late payments. If they do, late payments may result in an increase in your premiums at renewal.
Plug your insurance agent's phone number in your cell phone. In the event of an earthquake, you'll be very glad you did.