Before moving into a home, you must purchase homeowners' insurance. You must get homeowners' insurance before you can even get a mortgage. However, just because you pay for a certain amount of coverage does not necessarily mean that you will be covered for anything that happens to your home or personal property.
What Does My Homeowners’ Policy Cover?
Generally, such a policy will include the repair or replacement of your house and belongings. The policy also usually covers additional expenses if you are temporarily displaced. The policy will specify, however, which events trigger coverage.
Does My Coverage Extend to Earthquakes?
It is unlikely that your basic homeowners' insurance policy will cover damage due to earthquake. In fact, even an all-risk policy may explicitly exclude earthquakes from coverage. Thus, if your home is destroyed or damaged by an earthquake, you are not necessarily covered.
Earthquakes and other natural disasters are treated differently due to the difference in their perils. However, that does not mean that earthquake insurance is not available. For example, in California, a high-risk earthquake state, insurance carriers are required to offer earthquake coverage to anyone who carries one of their policies. Usually, this involves paying an extra fee to expand the coverage – termed an "earthquake endorsement." These endorsements, however, are not inexpensive, and their price depends on the location of the house and the materials used in its construction.
In other states, earthquake endorsements can be very cheap, but most people do not buy them because they do not think they will need them.
What Should I Do If I Want Earthquake Insurance?
If you want to be insured against property damage due to earthquakes, you should purchase additional insurance. This is especially true for those homeowners living in a high-risk area for earthquakes.
Do I Need an Insurance Lawyer?
If you are looking to buy a policy to protect against earthquake damage, you probably do not need an attorney. However, if you have been denied a claim under your policy, an attorney can help you evaluate a possible lawsuit against your insurer.