NASHVILLE – Each year, February is designated as Earthquake Awareness Month. To raise awareness of the importance of earthquake preparedness, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) reminds consumers that earthquake insurance can lower consumers’ financial burden in the event of an earthquake, either great or small.
“During Earthquake Awareness Month, I urge consumers to prepare for the potential financial impacts of earthquakes by learning more about earthquake insurance today,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Insurance Bill Huddleston. “Having adequate insurance coverage is a critical component of being prepared for the financial impacts of an earthquake.”
Earthquakes occur frequently in Tennessee because the Volunteer State has two seismic zones — the New Madrid Seismic Zone (“NMSZ”) in the west and the East Tennessee Seismic Zone in the east. While most quakes that occur in Tennessee are small, scientists estimate that there is a 25-40% probability of a 6.0 or greater magnitude earthquake occurring in the central United States within a 50-year window. While the primary focus remains on the NMSZ, it is not the only area of concern. Earthquakes are also occurring along the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone and in Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, and Texas and the East Tennessee Seismic Zone. About 200 earthquakes occur in the central U.S. every year, many of which go unnoticed.
Consumers should remember that traditional homeowners and business insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Earthquake insurance is available to purchase in Tennessee from licensed insurance producers.
An earthquake insurance policy can decrease financial losses in the aftermath of an earthquake.
Remember These Important Tips:
- When you shop for an earthquake policy, don’t forget about the deductible. A deductible is the amount the homeowner is responsible for paying on each claim. The deductible for earthquake insurance is usually 10% to 20% of the coverage limit. For example, if your home is insured for $200,000 a 10% deductible would be $20,000.
- Depending on the policy, there may be separate deductibles. Your home, your belongings, and outside structures like detached garages and fences may all have individual deductibles. Make sure you know your policy.
- Some policies may pay up to the total of one or more of the coverage limits if the damage is more than the coverage limits. Always check with your insurance agent to learn how the deductible may work for your earthquake coverage.
During An Earthquake
- During an earthquake, you may only have seconds to protect yourself before strong shaking knocks you down or debris starts falling. Practicing helps you be ready to respond. Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On with family and coworkers. That is, DROP to the ground, take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
- If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Stay there until the shaking stops.
- If you are driving when an earthquake occurs, pull over to a clear location, stop, and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution, avoiding bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.
- Look around you now, before an earthquake. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office, or school so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly because you already have a plan.
- You can protect your home by securing heavy items like bookcases, refrigerators, televisions, and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves. Consider making improvements to your building to fix structural issues that could cause your building to collapse during an earthquake.
To learn more insurance-related information, visit us online at tn.gov/insurance.