February 2, 2017

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Have Earthquake Coverage?

Earthquakes aren’t common in Massachusetts, but the state has experienced a number of significant ones throughout its history. When they do occur, they can cause a lot of damage because Massachusetts isn’t as prepared for them as other states, like California. One way homeowners in Winchester, MA can get ready for a potential earthquake is by adding earthquake coverage to their homeowners insurance policy.

Should Winchester, MA Residents Add Earthquake Coverage to Their Homeowners Insurance Policy?

Earthquakes Occur in Massachusetts

Since Massachusetts was settled, there have been quite a few earthquakes recorded in the state and surrounding waters. The state’s strongest known earthquake occurred in 1755 off the coast of Cape Ann. The quake was around a 6.5 magnitude and, even though its epicenter was in the ocean, damaged hundreds of buildings in and around Cape Ann. In addition to this event, according to Boston.com:

  • Nantucket experienced an earthquake that had a Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) of 5 in 1965
  • Cape Ann felt a 3.6-magnitude earthquake that occurred off the coast of in 2003
  • Wareham experienced an earthquake that had an MMI of 5 in 1924
  • Buzzard’s Bay was hit by a 2.1-magnitude earthquake in 2011
  • Brewster suffered a 4.2-magnitude earthquake in 1847

There have also been a number of earthquakes closer to Winchester, MA:

  • Boston experienced a 2.3-magnitude earthquake in 1974
  • Maiden suffered a 1.8-magnitude earthquake in 1978
  • Burlington had a 2.1-magnitude earthquake in 1984
  • Burlington also was hit by a 4.3-magnitude earthquake in 1817

In total, the Boston Globe reports that all of New England has one hundred 1- to 2-magnitude earthquakes each year, ten 2- to 3-magnitude quakes and one 3-4 magnitude quake. There’s typically a 4- to 5-magnitude earthquake every 10 years, a 5- to 6-magnitude quake every century, and a 6-plus magnitude quake in New England every millennium.

Homeowners Insurance Usually Doesn’t Include Earthquake Coverage

A single earthquake can cause significant damage, and most homeowners insurance policies afford little protection from this peril among their standard coverages. Few policies include earthquake coverage as a standard feature, leaving most homeowners to pay for any damage caused by earthquakes themselves.

Many Insurers Offer Earthquake Coverage as an Option

Most insurers, however, offer earthquake coverage as an option. Sometimes, it can be added onto a home insurance policy as an endorsement. Other times, it’s purchased as a stand-alone peril specific policy, which operates separately from a home insurance polciy.

However it’s acquired, earthquake coverage provides a potentially important protection. It’s specifically designed to help protect homeowners from damage caused by earthquakes — which can be extensive and expensive to recover from. (The exact protections that a home insurance or stand-alone policy’s earthquake coverage provide depend on its terms and conditions).

Homeowners in Massachusetts can often get this extra protection for relatively little cost, because earthquakes aren’t as common in the state as they are elsewhere. In many cases, a fairly minor premium increase can provide a possibly very important protection.

Ask an Insurance Agent in Winchester, MA

If you’d like to protect your Winchester, Massachusetts home from potential earthquakes, contact an independent insurance agent in town. An independent agent will be able to compare earthquake coverage endorsements from your current homeowners insurance provider with stand-alone earthquake policies from other insurance companies, and help you choose the option that will provide the most protection.

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