RICHMOND — When shopping for homeowners insurance,
earthquake coverage is probably not the first thing that comes to mind for most
Virginians. However, last summer’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake in central Virginia,
and the numerous aftershocks that have followed, serve as a reminder that they can,
and do, happen here.
The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians
that damage from earthquakes is excluded under homeowners policies unless coverage
for earthquake-related damage has been purchased as an addition to their homeowners
insurance policy. Not every insurance company offers earthquake coverage, but many
do. Consumers should review their policies to determine if they want to purchase
this added protection.
Legislation enacted by the 2012 Virginia General Assembly will require greater disclosure
by insurance companies that offer new or renewal fire insurance policies that exclude
coverage for earthquake damage. The new law, which applies to policies issued or
renewed on or after January 1, 2013, requires companies that exclude coverage for
earthquakes to provide a written notice that conspicuously states that earthquake
coverage is excluded unless purchased by endorsement. The notice also must state
that if earthquake insurance is otherwise available from the insurer, information
regarding earthquake insurance may be obtained from the insurer or agent. Virginia
homeowners insurance policyholders who do not have earthquake insurance will receive
the notice with their policy when it comes up for renewal in 2013.
Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham encourages Virginia homeowners
to review their policies carefully to fully understand any coverage limitations
or exclusions, and to contact their insurance agents or companies for information
relating to earthquake coverage and the rates for specific policies. Earthquake
insurance rates vary depending on the insurance company and the home’s building
Homeowners should review the coverage provisions of these policies, paying particular
attention to the way the earthquake deductible applies. Earthquake deductibles are
usually expressed as a percentage rather than a flat dollar amount. In Virginia,
these deductibles generally range from two percent to 15 percent of the policy limit.
Thus, a two percent deductible on a house insured for $100,000 would be $2,000.
Cars, trucks and other vehicles are covered for quake damage by the comprehensive
portion of vehicle insurance, which is optional. This coverage also protects vehicles
against such things as floods, wind damage, and theft.
For more information, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division
in Richmond at (804) 371-9185 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit the Bureau’s
website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi. Consumers who
are deaf or who are hearing or speech impaired may call through the SCC’s Telecommunications
Device for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDD) at (804) 371-9206.
The SCC is located in the Tyler Building at 1300 East Main Street in downtown Richmond.
Normal business hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Correspondence may be mailed
to the Bureau of Insurance at P.O. Box 1157, Richmond, VA 23218.