Are Earthquakes Covered by my Home Insurance?

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California's recent 7. 1  earthquake was a sharp reminder that we live in an uncertain world with changing weather patterns and natural disasters.  Virginia may not be California, but it's also not immune to seismic activity. And a standard homeowners’ policy will not cover earthquake damage. Unless you have specific earthquake coverage, homeowners are responsible for all costs to repair, rebuild or replace homes and personal property.

 

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                                    Map: Department of Geology and Mineral Resources, DMME 

Did you know the Commonwealth has averaged one earthquake per month since 1977? Thankfully, the majority are too small to be felt or cause damage. Most seismic activity in Virginia is centered in two zones: one stretching from the Richmond area to Charlottesville and another in the New River Valley in Giles County. Residents in Southwestern Virginia should also be aware that according to the USGS, Eastern Tennessee seismic zone is one of the most active earthquake areas in the Southeast.

 

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                              Grocery store in Mineral, VA, 2011

Do you remember the 5.8 magnitude earthquake on August 23, 2011? It was centered about 38 miles northwest of Richmond in Louisa County. It was felt as far north as Quebec and south as Atlanta, Georgia. Damage was reported as far north as Brooklyn, New York. Louisa County had an estimated $80.6 million in damages, with $63.8 million from damage to public school buildings and $14.7 million from damage to homes.

 

Damagezonemap1                                        Map: Department of Geology and Mineral Resources, DMME
 
 

If you experience an earthquake in your Virginia home, you and your family's safety is the most important thing. There are things you can do to prepare your home to make it safer during an earthquake. There are also things you can do to stay safe during one. Be sure to check your home after an earthquake for needed repairs, especially concerning potentially dangerous issues with your utilities such as gas and electric.

 

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                               CDC: Be Ready! Earthquakes

 

Virginia's 2011 earthquake caused pricey home damage: destroyed chimneys, cracked foundations, crumbled walls and broken water lines that led to minor flooding. While this type of damage is not  included in standard homeowners policies, adding earthquake insurance to your existing Northern Neck home insurance policy is easy and affordable. If you live in an area of Virginia that may be more prone to earthquakes, speak with a licensed professional to see if this coverage is right for you!