When most people think of earthquakes, the first location they think of is not Charleston. They think of California, New Zealand, Asia and other places that have suffered recent major earthquakes. Because we haven’t had a major earthquake in 130 years, oftentimes people forget that Charleston sits on a major fault line.
The last major earthquake that Charleston experienced completely devastated the city. There was $23 million of damage. That is $612 million when adjusted for inflation! With the growth that the Charleston area has seen since 1886 the fallout from an earthquake today would be even greater than the figure above.
Earthquake coverage is automatically excluded from standard homeowner’s policies, but coverage can be added back in by an earthquake endorsement or by buying a stand-alone earthquake policy. While Earthquake insurance isn’t required by most lenders, we do recommend this coverage. The nominal amount that the coverage adds to your annual premium is worth the savings you could see if we were to experience a major earthquake.
For a home with a $300,000 Replacement Cost, adding earthquake coverage to you insurance policy typically adds $300 or less to your premium (depending on the carrier). Starting a new stand-alone earthquake policy is usually around $325-350 for the same home. Earthquake coverage does come with its own earthquake deductible. In many cases, this is a 5% deductible, which means that for that $300,000 house, the deductible will be $15,000 (5% of the Replacement Cost). We have also seen deductibles as 2% and 3% with certain carriers.
Unlike hurricanes and tropical storms, there is no way to predict when the next earthquake will hit. So, we recommend adding earthquake coverage to your homeowners policy, and also taking steps to mitigate potential earthquake hazards. Things like strapping your water heaters to the wall or anchoring top heavy furniture to walls can prevent additional damage and bodily harm. As always, you should also have an earthquake plan for your family. This would include identifying the safest places in the house during an earthquake, as well as what to do if an earthquake strikes while you are elsewhere.
Check your policy to see if you have earthquake coverage. If you don’t, call us at 843.763.4200 to get an earthquake quote. Keep in mind, we do not write monoline earthquake coverage, so we will need to write the homeowner’s policy as well.