Earthquake Insurance for Property Owners

In light of the recent earthquake in Nepal, many homeowners around the globe are considering purchasing or upgrading their earthquake insurance policies.  Eugene residents are among these homeowners and rightfully so.

Eugene is located near the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a region where one tectonic plate sits atop another.  Subduction zones produce megathrust earthquakes, which can reach up to a 9.5 or higher on the Richter Scale.  Put simply, they cause catastrophic damage.  Many scientists believe that the Pacific Northwest is ‘overdue’ for an earthquake of this magnitude, and that it is only a matter of time before one strikes.  Glancing at the map below, Eugene sits as a serious hazard regarding earthquake damage.  However, before pushing the panic button, there are many viable options for securing your home and your health in preparation for times like these.

For your safety, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides citizens with tips on how to prepare for earthquakes.  It is important to:

  • Hold family safety drills periodically
  • Know where to seek refuge at home
  • Assemble and maintain an emergency supply kit
  • Stay in contact with friends, neighbors, and family for additional help
  • Learn how to care for those around you (CPR and First Aid)

For homeowners, there are many feasible options for securing property and assets.  According to state officials, only 20% of Oregon homeowners have earthquake insurance.  This may appear odd for individuals living in a state with such high risk of earthquake damage, but some don’t fully understand the risk, and some believe the insurance to be too costly.

The average coverage for a $300,000 home with $150,000 personal property protection can cost homeowners around $200 to $300 a year.  That’s around $17 to $25 a month added to your mortgage.  Deductibles for protecting the structure itself could range anywhere from 2% to 20%, meaning that in order to rebuild a $300,000 structure with a 5% deductible, the homeowner is required to pay the first $15,000.  Additionally, insurance rates differ depending on the age, frame, or material of the home, and the insurance does not cover small damages from incidental quakes.  For Eugene homeowners this insurance can provide peace of mind knowing that their homes are protected when the worst occurs.  However, some would rather prepare for potential disasters by retrofitting their homes.  They can add stability to the structure or create designated ‘safe areas’ for refuge during an earthquake.  This can drastically assist homeowners, but it can still leave personal items at risk.

For renters there are different options.  For those interested in protecting their personal belongings in times of natural disasters, renter’s insurance can help.  Typically this will raise your current insurance policy by about 10%-15%.  Earthquake insurance is not usually covered under a standard renter’s insurance package, but there are easily accessible options through major insurance providers.

Newer apartment complexes are most likely up to par with FEMA’s building codes regarding structural security during natural disasters.  However, older buildings in Eugene may not be.  Many have been standing for decades without major renovation or structural repair, and it is important to take this into account when leasing or buying property.

As a tenant, homeowner, or property owner in Eugene it is important to understand the risk of earthquakes, and how you can prevent major loss if one strikes.  For more information on earthquake risk in the Pacific Northwest:


Written by Dolan Jones and the St. Clair Properties Team.

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