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Missouri insurance director warns residents about earthquake coverage

Posted On Fri, February 25, 2011

After an earthquake with a 6.5 magnitude rocked the southern island of New Zealand earlier this week, Americans may be wondering if their home insurance policies cover damage from earthquakes.

The quaking got the attention of Missouri's Department of Insurance, and with the 200th anniversary of the earthquake that hit New Madrid just passing, the department wants people to know that many residents may lack coverage without their knowing it.

According to John Huff, director of the department, home insurance companies have been dropping earthquake coverage at a prodigious rate over the past decade.

In Pemiscot County, for instance, just 32 percent of residences had coverage in 2009 compared to 51 percent in 2002. Meanwhile, premium increases have skyrocketed 111 percent for the county over that time period.

To ensure coverage, Huff says earthquake coverage must be purchased separately by buying an endorsement or rider.

Whether an insurer covers earthquake damage under a standard home insurance policy depends on the provider. Even in California - one of the more active hotspots for tremors - just 12 percent have coverage, according to the California Earthquake Authority. 

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