Although Kansas earthquake activity hasn’t registered too many headlines recently, earthquakes are still being recorded each week, especially in southcentral portions of the state.
That’s why Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, continues to encourage Kansans to check with their insurance agents and companies about earthquake coverage and exclusions that might apply to any homeowners coverage those consumers have.
Earthquake insurance coverage in Kansas requires a separate policy or endorsement to your regular homeowners insurance policy, Commissioner Selzer said.
“Earthquake coverage is not a part of a regular homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy,” Commissioner Selzer said. “If your insurance company offers it — and many do — coverage can be added by including an endorsement to your policy or by purchasing a separate earthquake policy.”
In either case, the Commissioner said, you will pay an extra premium. Instead of a dollar amount, the deductible for that premium will probably be a percentage of the cost of rebuilding your home. There might also be a separate deductible for the home’s contents.
Commissioner Selzer also urges policy owners to check whether policy endorsements or special policies have any provisions addressing the idea that earthquakes have originated because of man-made oil drilling activity.
According to a special section on the Hutchinson News website, Kansas recorded five earthquakes during the last few days of January and the first few days of February. Although the magnitude of the earthquakes is so low that the public may not notice them, the activity is registered almost daily.
“Kansans should also remember that earthquake policies usually cover only structural and foundation damage to a home,” Commissioner Selzer said. “That is why it is important, if you are considering the coverage, that you talk over the specifics with your local agent.” Commissioner Selzer also offered these points to consider about earthquake coverage:
• Coverage doesn’t include damage to your vehicles. That may be covered under your current automobile policy. Check with your local insurance agent or company to verify your vehicle coverage.
• The time to buy the coverage is before an earthquake. Most insurers won’t sell any new earthquake insurance for 30 to 60 days after a recent earthquake. Check with your insurance company to be sure.
• As with any household coverage, make a household inventory. Go through each room to write down and video everything. Store the inventory in a secure place at another location, such as a safe deposit box. (For a download of a Personal Home Inventory, go to www.ksinsurance.org, and on the home page hit “Finding a Publication” under the “Help With...” banner. If you have a smartphone, you can get the application for a mobile personal home inventory, MyHomeScr.APP.book, from your phone’s app store.
A survey by the Insurance Information Institute (III) shows that only 8 percent of homeowners in the Midwest have earthquake insurance. In Oklahoma, where earthquakes have been prevalent during the past few years, a total of 15 percent of homeowners have the coverage, according to the institute.
For additional assistance, contact the Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484.