February 07, 2019

New report from the Missouri Department of Insurance is a stark reminder that many Missourians remain uninsured against the risk of earthquakes

Preparedness is critical to recovering from an earthquake disaster

Jefferson City, Mo - Although you may not have felt one yet, earthquake occurrences in southeast Missouri are not rare. In fact, Missouri experiences small earthquakes regularly and there have been four earthquakes measuring a magnitude of 4.5 or greater in the New Madrid Seismic zone since 1976. The U.S. Geological Survey says there is a 25-40% chance that an earthquake with a 6 or higher magnitude will impact the New Madrid Zone within the next 50 years. 

Despite the fact that earthquakes present a significant hazard to Missourians, the number of homes insured against damage from earthquakes has declined between 2008 and 2017, according to a Residential Earthquake Coverage Report released by the Missouri Department of Insurance. 

“Many homeowners may assume their existing policy covers them in the event of an earthquake.  That is simply wrong,” says Chlora Lindley-Myers, Director of the Missouri Department of Insurance.  “Coverage for earthquakes must be purchased separately, usually through an earthquake endorsement that is added to your insurance policy.”

In the six-county New Madrid region of the state, residences with earthquake coverage declined by an astonishing 37 percent, from just half to 17.1 percent since 2008. Over 60% of the dwellings in New Madrid had earthquake coverage in 2000. 

In 77 Missouri counties, fewer than 20 percent of residences have earthquake coverage. In only seven counties are at least half of the residences insured from damage caused by earthquakes.

The report also shows that the cost of earthquake coverage has increased significantly, particularly in the high-risk New Madrid area. In just the last 10 years, costs have increased by 132 percent in New Madrid counties. Since 2000, costs have increased by 611 percent.

 “The key to recovery following an earthquake is preparation,” says Lindley-Myers. “Your home and your personal belonging are the largest personal asset your family has. It’s important to do all you can to protect it before an event occurs.”