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Tom Laramee
3 months ago • Seattle

Homeowner's Insurance and Earthquake Protection

I'm curious what the people think about the following subject: is it recommended, possible, and wise to have earthquake insurance added to a homeowner's policy here in the Puget Sound region? We live in an seismically active zone (the Cascadia subduction zone), so it's entirely possible that it could come in handy. I've heard it's expensive, and the coverage generally isn't very good, so insight into those specifics would be greatly appreciated. And if it's a good idea, can I get a recommendation on who might offer it? (State Farm will not add it to my policy / not sure why).
5 replies
3 months ago
Yes it is possible and I have earthquake and flood insurance on my policy. It's much cheaper here than in California where there are all kinds of issues getting earthquake insurance.

It all depends. I have it cause it gives me peace of mind. It also protects me in case I am displaced from my home for a long time (if there is an earthquake, even minor one and there is damage, good luck finding a contractor that will address and remediate issues for a while). You need to be prepared to live out of your home for a while.

More important than earthquake insurance - spend the money to ensure your home has all the latest seismic upgrades. Are your sheer walls protected and braced? Do you have an earthquake gas shut off valve? Do you have water shutoff system for the house that can detect a leak and turn off the water? These investments are more important as they will mitigate the damage in an earthquake.

Do you have a 30 day emergency food supply? Do you have access to potable water? You will probably end up sheltering in your home for a few days during a bad earthquake. Can you boil water and cook food?

So generally if you have a total loss in an earthquake, you can expect your insurance will cover 75% of the rebuild. However, if you have minor damage or partial loss they may cover zero in which case see above on the things you can do to protect your home.
  • 3 months ago
Thanks Omar, this is really helpful. Which insurance company do you use? I did have Sound Seismic retro-fit my house a few years ago. I'm lucky that my house was built with these huge cross beams for shear support. I also have the gas shut-off valve. I agree these are really good ideas. I don't have a water shut-off system .. I'll have to research that.
General Contractor - Ballard
  • 3 months ago
We use Chubb (had ACE before that but Chubb purchased them). Insurance companies like Chubb don't sell direct to consumer, we did ours through Marsh ( Chubb is is different than your normal insurance as it's a high deductible policy but what you get in return is excellent coverage and a single policy that covers everything. Chub insures:

Home (inc Earthquake and Flood)
Home Valuables (doesn't count toward deductible if itemized)
Auto (includes free glass break coverage which is honestly the only insurance we've used in 9 years)
Umbrella Liability

Been a customer for 10 years and rates are consistent and service is 5 star.

When I was with Allstate our rate changes were wild. No sense to why and how they adjusted.
Interior Designer - Downtown
  • 3 months ago
For water shutoff off we use LeakSmart.
Water Detectors
  • 3 months ago
Hey, I've been down this road too. A few years ago I ducked into Magnolia Insurance Agency on a whim. Old school. Coincidentally, this is the closest physical business to my house. For some reason I barely noticed this place before glancing up at the sign one day. They were super nice and very competent. They switched all of our auto & home insurance to cheaper Safeco plans. Earthquake coverage is provided by Arrowhead for a few hundred bucks a year, I think. Also recommend Umbrella insurance if you don't have that yet. Similar to Omar, I was with Allstate for years but I'll never look back.
  • 3 months ago

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