Invariably, when the subject of earthquakes comes up, all eyes turn westward.
The San Andreas Fault Line has been the recipient of much of the press concerning
earthquakes for some time, and predictions concerning the ultimate cataclysm
believed by many to eventually be centered there have given it a mythical stature
unrivalled by fault lines elsewhere in the country.
Nonetheless, California does not have a monopoly on earthquakes. The New Madrid
Fault Line, centered in Missouri, has been cited by the U.S. Geological Survey
as being a potential source of significant earthquake activity. The USGS
also notes that earthquakes in the central and eastern parts of the US typically
have a broader range than their western counterparts. One such quake along
the New Madrid Fault Line in 1811 rang church bells as far away as Boston, Massachusetts,
about 1,000 miles away from the epicenter! More recently, in April 2003,
a quake measuring 4.9 on the Richter Scale hit Alabama. A year earlier,
a slightly more powerful quake hit Plattsburgh, NY. In January 2002,
a 5.0 quake hit Evansville, Indiana. These quakes all shook neighboring
states and caused significant damage to businesses, homes and infrastructure
in and around their epicenters.
While none of these quakes equaled, for example, the intensity and resulting
damage caused by the Northridge Earthquake of 1994, they do serve to support
the notion that it may be beneficial to consider adding earthquake coverage
to your property policy even if you are not located in close proximity to a
known fault line.
Since earthquake insurance is generally an elective coverage, it would be wise,
especially if you have not taken a look at your policy recently, to do a quick
review to determine whether or not it is a covered peril. Also, look at
any scheduled property endorsements or personal property floaters to see if
specific items are covered for earthquake-related damage regardless of whether
or not the earthquake coverage endorsement has been purchased. If
the answer is no to any of these questions and you would like to obtain a
quotation for coverage, contact your agent for details.
It is also worth noting that, should an earthquake cause damage that is either:
a) not covered because you elected not to purchase
b) within the policy deductible, retention, or
co-insurance amount, or
c) is in excess of the coverage you purchased
the loss may be tax deductible. Check out the IRS website at www.irs.gov
for details or consult with your tax advisor.